Pelosi: Iranian threat is world problem

But US Speaker of the House of Representatives acknowledges that Israel "bears the brunt" of that threat.

Pelosi 298.88 AP (photo credit: AP [file])
Pelosi 298.88 AP
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Iranian regime threatens not only Israel and the Middle East but the entire world, said US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who spoke Sunday night at the opening of the three-day 94th national conference of the Hadassah Zionist Women's Organization in Los Angeles's Westin Bonaventure Hotel. "Israel bears the brunt of that threat... and the safety not only of Israel but of the entire world depends on forcing Iran to give up its nuclear capability," she said, calling for stronger sanctions against the rogue Muslim state. Pelosi, who visited Israel last May and toured the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem, appeared along with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, who had flown in specially for the 2,000-delegate event. Both the first women to become speakers of the legislatures in their countries and, standing at either side of the dais, they were described with a smile by Hadassah national president Nancy Falchuk as "stereo speakers" who had done much for the empowerment of women in the two countries. Pelosi told the delegates representing the 96-year-old organization's 300,000 members that she always carried with her replicas of the "dog tags" of Hizbullah's prisoners, kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - given to her by Goldwasser's wife Karnit - and shows them at every opportunity in Washington to demonstrate Congress's commitment to their return, as well as to the release of Gilad Schalit from the hands of Hamas in Gaza. Pelosi praised Hadassah for its political activism in the US, which helped bring about the passing of a law that guarantees privacy and protection from discrimination on the basis of genetic tests, its efforts for health care for all of America's children and embryonic stem cell research, which has the potential to eventually reverse various chronic diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and type 1 diabetes. Pelosi, herself a mother of five with seven grandchildren, noted with frustration that US President George W. Bush had repeatedly vetoed bills that had been passed by Congress. Bush, she said, opposes a law to provide universal health care to children because "he says it would cost too much, but [the costs of keeping US soldiers] only 40 days in Iraq will provide care for 10 million children." She noted that although cancer had hit virtually every American family, killing 550,000 Americans per year, Bush also defeated an initiative to increase research funding for the US National Cancer Institute. But, the Democratic congresswoman added, "January is only a few months away," referring to the month when a new president will take over. She had been impressed during her visit to the Hadassah hospital that its staff "treat everyone not because they [the patients] are Jewish, but because you [the supporters and staff] are Jewish." Itzik, who was warmly received at the convention, noted that 60 years ago, Israel had been home to only three percent of world Jewry, but today the figure had risen to 43%. She also praised the Hadassah initiative to teach Hebrew to members around the US. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who himself visited Israel only a few weeks ago, said that Israel's enemies wanted to "exterminate" the Jewish state, but that America would always stand behind Israel. During his visit, he had signed an agreement that would bring Israeli airport security experts to the US to help make Los Angeles's international airport safer, he said. The ceremony began with rousing versions of both countries' national anthems. The convention organizers committed themselves to making it an "environmentally friendly" affair - giving out cloth bags rather than paper-filled plastic cases to delegates and replacing the traditional daily "newspaper" reporting the events with an Internet site to disseminate stories, videos and photos.