Hadassah keynote speakers cut to the chase: Iran

Two of the world’s top female politicians are not afraid to stand up to one of world’s greatest threats.

Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), speaker of the House of Representatives, and Dalia Itzik, speaker of the Knesset, both warned more than 1,800 Hadassah delegates last weekend of the danger posed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The two were keynote speakers July 13 in Los Angeles at the opening session of the 94th annual Hadassah convention.

“We must take the madmen in Tehran seriously,” Itzik said. “Their nuclear plans threaten not only Tel Aviv but also New York and Los Angeles.”

Pelosi called for “far-reaching and tighter sanctions that recognize that Iran is a threat to the entire world,” adding that global security “demands that Iran give up its nuclear ambitions.”

Pelosi, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel in May to help celebrate the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary, also demanded the return of Israeli solider Gilad Shalit, being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

She had taken an interest in Israel’s other high-profile hostages, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose remains were repatriated July 16. While meeting with the kings of Jordan and Syria, Pelosi wore a set of dog tags belonging to Goldwasser and Regev.

During her speech, Pelosi praised the work of the Hadassah Medical Organization and its two medical centers in Jerusalem.

Pointing out that the Hadassah hospitals were open to anyone, regardless of race or religion, Pelosi told the delegates, “Hadassah accepts all patients, not because they are Jewish, but because you are Jewish.”

Pelosi also called on the Jewish community to strongly support a series of health-related bills, ranging from stem cell research to Medicare reform, passed by both houses of Congress but vetoed by President Bush.

“But it won’t be long until these bills become law,” she promised. “The next president will sign them.”

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has about 300,000 female members in the United States and an additional 30,000 male associate members. The group’s four-day convention ended July 16.

Tom Tugend

JTA Los Angeles correspondent