"Are you more hopeful about a Middle East settlement now than you were a month ago?" The question was asked at a kind of political rap session held last week in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville, Md. The leader was Hyman Bookbinder of the American Jewish Committee's capital office. The participants were 65 mostly middleaged, upper-middle-class Jews who gather with him each month. Lately the discussion has been chiefly about Israel and its prospects for peace and survival. Bookbinder watched carefully as slowly, hesitantly, one hand after another was raised until a clear majority signified yes.


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