LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a security threat to the entire world, two of the top female politicians in the United States and Israel told more than 1,800 delegates in attendance at the opening session of the 94th annual Hadassah convention.
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik of the Kadima Party on Sunday joined in warning the West not to underestimate the seriousness of the Iranian threat as did Hitler’s intentions in the years before World War II.
“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.”
The San Francisco Democrat, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel in May to help celebrate the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary, demanded the return of Israeli soldiers held by the Iranian-supported Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations.
Pelosi said the wife of one the soldiers presented her with a set of her husband’s military dog tags.
“I wore the dog tags when I was meeting the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia,” Pelosi related.
She also warmly 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’s national president, Nancy Falchuk of Boston, standing between Pelosi and Itzik, referred to them jokingly as “stereo speakers” and praised the lawmakers as women pioneers who had broken the glass ceilings in their respective countries.
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 here will end Wednesday.