Jewish Woman Leads Switzerland

Ruth Dreifuss has been selected by the Swiss parliament to be the president of Switzerland—the first woman and the first Jew to hold that post. Dreifuss, 58, was inaugurated January 1 for the year-long post. Surprisingly, women did not even achieve the right to vote in Switzerland until 1971.

“My professional commitment  is leftist, feminist and dedicated to human rights,” Dreifuss told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, adding that her country’s actions during World War II would also be on her agenda.

Dreifuss noted to the JTA that she has kept a low profile on the issue because she did not want to speak out as the “token Jew” in the government. But she plans to reopen dialogue with Jewish groups over Holocaust-era issues. “It would be a catastrophe,” she said, if the $1.25 billion Swiss banks’ settlement with Jewish groups “mean[t] we would consider our work over.”