Rather than praise, which one might expect from a roomful of women and the ceiling-smashing Nancy Pelosi, insults were hurled toward the stage.
"Traitor!" screamed one woman.
"Liar!" shouted another.
One man's high-volume, breakneck rampage got him physically removed from the room. His diatribe, though nearly indecipherable, left Pelosi stone-faced but shaken.
Pelosi, on a break from her post as the first female Speaker of the House, landed at American Jewish University (AJU) on Aug. 11 to promote her new book, "Know Your Power: A Message to America's Daughters" (Doubleay). Faced with an acrimonious audience, one of Congress's most outspoken critics of the Bush administration was lambasted for opposing impeachment proceedings against the president.
During a 90-minute Q-and-A with AJU President Robert Wexler, Pelosi discussed her childhood, her unexpected rise to power and the need for more women in government in front of an audience of nearly 400 people.
When Wexler pressed her on a question about Congress's dismally low 9 percent approval rating, Pelosi defended herself and her colleagues. This prompted an irate audience member to accuse Pelosi of shirking her constitutional responsibilities by not impeaching Bush for the deceptive reasoning that led to the Iraq War.
"I have complete comfort with the frustration," she said. "I'm from the streets."
But when several others rose from their seats in protest, Pelosi became defensive.
"I take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Don't tell me I don't do that," she snapped. "Why don't you go picket the Republicans in Congress that will not allow us to have a vote on the war?"
It's puzzling that L.A. liberals were charmed by the likes of Karl Rove, who appeared at a similar event in February, but were hostile to Pelosi, who was visably deflated by the time the crowd quieted down.
"What else do you have for me?" she asked a bereft Wexler, who didn't follow up on the impeachment issue.
Despite her book's message of empowerment to America's women, Pelosi was pelted as if she were a harlot.
A Glamorous Garden Party
Besides ranking among the world's greatest violinists, what do Yitzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman and Gil Shaham have in common?
All three, when they were starting out, got a crucial career boost through scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF), a low-key organization that has had an enormous influence in nourishing Israeli talent in music, theater, art and design, film and dance.
Local AICF supporters got a special bonus as guests at a garden party, concert and dinner July 27 at Marilyn Ziering's Mediterranean-style villa in Beverly Hills, which instantly transported participants to the Riviera.
AICF was founded in 1939, when the small Jewish community in Palestine exported oranges instead of high-tech devices, and last year it awarded more than 1,100 scholarships (at $1,800 a pop) to promising Israeli students in the performing and visual arts.
This information was supplied courtesy of Debby Edelsohn, co-president of the Los Angeles AICF chapter with Renee Cherniak, and Marguerite Perkins-Mautner, whose husband, Charles Edelsohn, served as the afternoon's ace photographer.
Also joining our table were Barbara Gilbert, the Skirball Museum's curator emerita, and her husband, the doctor, as well as the young stars of the event, violinist Natanel Draiblate and violist Tom Palny, both Israelis, and New Yorker Brian Hatton, cello.
The trio was warmly applauded for its renditions of Mozart and Beethoven works, with a rousing medley of Israeli songs as an encore.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
(Above, from left) Brian Hatton (cellist), Rene Cherniak, Netanel Draiblate (violinist), Marguerite Mautner, Tom Palny (violist) and Debby Edelsohn
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