In the face of the new dispute between Israel and the United States, most major American Jewish organizations have supported Israel's annexation of the occupied Golan Heights and have called on President Reagan to reaffirm U.S. friendship and backing for the Jewish state.
However, in a deviation from the past pattern, many of the statements have stressed the need for Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, as well as the Reagan administration, to help heal the rift that saw the United States suspend its strategic cooperation accord with Israel and Begin respond with an angry denuniciation of the U.S. action.
In private, some Jewish organization leaders, who asked not to be identified, said the differing tone reflects a feeling in the American Jewish community that the Golan move was embarrassing to overall U.S. policy in the Middle East and that Begin went too far by injecting such a vitriolic note into his comments.
According to these sources, many persons prominent in American-Jewish affairs have been advising the Israeli government that the wisest course would be to follow the low-key stance adopted by the administration and allow the dispute to cool down.
One of the strongest statements supporting Israel came from Howard M. Squadron, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He called Begin's criticism "perfectly justified" and added that "demonstrations of moral American outrage should be reserved for our enemies and not our friends."
Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said the United States was guilty of "a double standard" by overreacting when Israel tries to defend itself, while turning "a blind eye to Syrian aggression." Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and has occupied it since.
Jack J. Spitzer, president of B'nai B'rith International, called suspension of the security agreement "short-sighted" and charged that Syria "has willingly played the role of Soviet agent in the area."
Similarly, Maxwell E. Greenberg, national chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, called on the administration to "take steps to increase Israel's sense of confidence."
Ivan J. Novick, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said his members view the Israeli action "with understanding" and added: "We respectfully urge the United States to be cognizant of America's own interests in the area, which should prompt us to avoid any action that would undermine or weaken our proven friend and important ally."
But, in many of the statements, there also were oblique hints of a call for future moderation on Israel's part. Such hints came through perhaps most clearly in the statement of Henry Siegman, executive director of the American Jewish Congress.
While characterizing the U.S. response as "excessive," he added: "What is needed now is a muting of confrontational rhetoric on both sides . . . ."