A Tepid Response
Even American Jewish supporters of the peace
process reacted with increased skepticism to the
JAMES D. BESSER WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
he cast of characters was
similar, but the dramatic
signing in Cairo of the
last year's Israeli-PLO accord
for limited Palestinian self-rule
produced a very different reac-
the last eight months," he said.
"Now they have to put together
the real building blocks. For
Arafat, it's show time."
A number of Jewish leaders re-
port that the long delay in the
implementation agreement con-
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Rabin and Arafat shake hands after the Cairo signing.
tion among American Jewish
Back in September, there was
an unabashed euphoria as PLO
Chairman Yassir Arafat and
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
shook hands on the White House
lawn; this time around, after
months of delay and a rising tide
of violence, the reaction among
Jewish groups was more sub-
"I think the community is
hopeful but skeptical," said
Steven Grossman, president of
the American Israel Public Af-
fairs Committee (AIPAC), who
attended last week's signing cer-
"I believe the American Jew-
ish community continues to be
verysupportive of the peace
process," he said. "Yet the long
delays and some of the events of
the past few months — particu-
larly Arafat's failure to condemn
terrorism and violence when he
had an opportunity to do so —
created considerable consterna-
tion in our community."
The PLO, he said, has won the
symbols of autonomy. "Those
symbols have consumed much of
tributed to a much more realistic
kind of support for the peace
"There is still prevalent sup-
port for the process here, as there
seems to be in Israel," said Lester
Pollack, chair of the Conference
of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations, who also
attended last week's ceremony.
"But what came out of the meet-
ings in Cairo was non-euphoric,
more pragmatic. Those who were
skeptical before became more
skeptical because of what hap-
pened; those who were euphoric
became less euphoric. But there
is a clear sense of progress and
He also referred togrowing
concern among American Jews
about Mr. Arafat's failure to live
up to the promises he made as
part of the peace process.
That issue came to a boil on
Capitol Hill last week, where
some 15 House members —
led by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.,
and Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J. —
joined the new Congressional
Peace Accord Monitoring Group,
which will provide some
additional high-level scrutiny of