Democratic presidential hopeful Jesse L. Jackson has given an in-depth interview to a liberal Jewish magazine intended to help him mend his troubled relations with the Jewish community, but some Jewish activists who have read a prepublication copy said it may exacerbate them.

In the interview, to be published in the forthcoming issue of Tikkun, a 40,000-circulation bimonthly magazine, Jackson criticized Israel for providing military and economic aid to South Africa, compared that country's Botha regime to Hitler's Third Reich, and said it is "unfortunate" that some Jewish groups took a lead role in opposing affirmative action policies during the Bakke fight over that issue before the Supreme Court. He also shied away from directly repudiating Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, though Jackson has made clear in numerous other forums that Farrakhan will not be a part of his 1988 campaign, as he had been for a period of time in 1984.

"My impression is that this interview is going to be troublesome because I think it reflects the amibivalences and ambiguities that continue to surround these issues with Jesse Jackson," said Hyman Bookbinder, special representative for the American Jewish Committee.

"I do believe he genuinely wants to make peace and get along with the Jewish community," Bookbinder said. "He, nevertheless, has certain problems with Jewish policies and behavior that he can't shake off, and in a probing interview, these come to the fore."

Other Jewish leaders -- and Jackson himself -- said he has been making a concerted effort over the past two years to reach out, to sensitize himself to the Jewish perspective, and they fault Jews who are unwilling to give him a fresh hearing.

"Rev. Jackson's recent effort to extend a hand of friendship and recognition to the Jewish community have been met with insensitivity and harshness," Norman Birnbaum, a Tikkun editorial board member, wrote in one of six responses that will accompany the Jackson interview. "Surely this important American leader has other things to talk about with us than the insistent demands of some that he agree with their interpretations of the world."

Jackson, commenting yesterday in an interview with The Washington Post on his relations with Jews, said: "The bottom line is, that I have reached out fervently to build bridges and will continue to do so. But my appeal is that as we seek to build a relationship, we cannot keep pulling the skin back to see if the wound has healed."

In 1984, Jackson's association with Farrakhan (who had called Hitler a "great man" and Judaism a "gutter religion"), his references to Jews as "Hymies", and his prior meetings with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat led many Jews to express the view that he was anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, or both.

Jackson has said repeatedly that he is none of those, and noted that in the past two years he has sought numerous fence-mending sessions with Jewish leaders, raised the subject of Soviet Jewry with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev when they met in Geneva, visited a concentration camp and developed a deeper understanding of the Holocaust as a "body of experience unique in history."

In the Tikkun interview, Jackson:Said he supports "Israel's right to exist within secure boundaries." He also supports a "homeland or state" for the Palestinian people, normalized trade relations with Arab nations, and an expansion of the Camp David peace process to include other Arab nations, including a representative of the Palestinians. Denied criticizing only Israel for selling arms to South Africa, noting that "I contacted the embassies of France and Germany and Britain as well . . . . The relationship between American blacks and Jews is different, however, than American blacks and Germany, or France, or Britain. Our democratic relationships are different. Our religious relationship is different. Our historical relationship is different. We've not been in contention with the British and French over the course of affirmative action, as a case in point . . . . Whoever is doing business with South Africa is wrong, but Israel is such a substantial beneficiary, Israel is subsidized by America, which includes black Americans' tax money, and then it subsidizes South Africa." Said "there's been an overreaction to Farrakhan, as if Farrakhan had state power. He does not. So there is a certain exaggeration in the reaction. You . . . should also deal with what has been Farrakhan's public reaction about Hitler: that he was saying that he was great to his people. That was not an adjective I would use; Hitler was wicked to the world, wicked, immoral, sinful . . . . Do not give me the assignment or the responsibility to address your {the Jewish} relationship with Farrakhan. That is not fair. You don't give yourself the burden to check all white people in this country." (Jackson, in The Post interview, said he refused to denounce Farrakhan because "in the Christian religion, we try to separate the sin from the sinner, and I believe in redemption.") Said that "every moral and ethical imperative that made us say 'No' to Hitler and the Third Reich should make us say 'No' to {South Africa's Pieter W.} Botha in the Fourth Reich. One difference in the Third Reich is that so much of Hitler's dirt was in the dark. In the case of Botha, he is bold, public, has nuclear power, an open relationship with America . . . . It is that entanglement that makes a very complicated and yet morally challenging situation." Said he understands why there is "concern with the use of quotas as a ceiling to deny upward mobility according to one's own abilities." But Jackson said that "quotas were recommended by the courts as a remedy to establish a floor if timetables and affirmative action fail . . . . So it was unfortunate that some of our former Jewish allies seized upon the quota issue, which was a last resort, as if it were a first resort. The result of losing the Bakke decision has been a generation of blacks and Hispanics who have been irreparably damaged."

Magazine editor Michael Lerner, who conducted the interview, said he had hoped Jackson would use it to "give himself a clean slate. It's sad, but it hasn't happened." The interview, he said, demonstrates "an insensitivity to the oppression of the Jews. But I have compassion for him. Oppressed people get so focused on their own oppression, it's hard for them to understand the oppression of others. Jews have been guilty of the same thing."

Of the six published responses, three are critical of Jackson, three supportive. "It may have been a unanimous view four years ago that I'm insensitive," Jackson told The Post yesterday. "Now you have some people saying: 'Here's a guy who is struggling to grow.' To me, that's progress."