American Jewish leaders met yesterday with Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead to express their concern over U.S. criticism of Israel's treatment of demonstrators in Gaza and on the West Bank.

Morris Abram, an Atlanta lawyer who led the delegation, said the Arab protesters were not college campus demonstrators. "They come with molotov cocktails and gasoline bombs," he said. "They come not to make a point but to overthrow" Israeli rule.

"It was a valuable exchange of viewpoints. We are always happy to have their views," Deputy Spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said, adding, though, that the State Department had not changed its mind about Israel's use of force.

The State Department and the White House Tuesday urged Israel to end "harsh security measures" in Gaza and the West Bank.

Abram, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, described U.S. criticism this week of Israel as "a bump in the road."

He said Whitehead had assured him that "the special relationship will continue and endure" between the United States and Israel.

The Reagan administration, usually friendly to Jerusalem, abstained this week in the U.N. Security Council and allowed passage of a resolution strongly deploring Israeli "policies and practices which violate the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories."