At least some of those at a fund-raising meeting in New York of Jews backing President Carter for reelection wanted to discuss the administration's Mideast policies. But Robert S. Strauss, Carter's campaign chairman, would have none of it.
"I didn't come here to put up with you," Strauss told Rabbi Abraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale as the rabbi attempted to criticize U.S. policy concerning Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River.
Strauss walked away from Weiss, who previously had demonstrated against Carter's policies with about 70 others outside the Manhattan club.
Organizers of the fund-raiser, embarrassed by the exchange with Strauss, unsuccessfully attempted to get Weiss to leave.
But when Strauss addressed the group and referred to the demonstration outside as "emotional hysteria," another guest interrupted him.
"Those people represent many of the Jewish community," said the man, who asked not to be identified. Strauss responded that he had not come to answer questions and he was not going to argue.
The man retorted that he had contributed to Carter's campaign in 1976 but that he felt the president had lied to Jews and betrayed them.
Strauss continued his talk and received scattered applause as he recalled Carter's Camp David peace efforts. He abruptly ended his address as Weiss and another guest tried to question him further.
"He did not have the guts to confront Jews who oppose Jimmy Carter," said Jerry Strober, who said he, too, had gone to the party hoping to question the campaign chairman. Strober identified himself as an executive with an organization here supporting Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Strauss, who said he was tired and who appeared shaken by his reception, said later he "felt sorry" for the critics, whom he termed "nuts."