(JTA) — Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate in U.S. history, was remembered as a defender of human rights and a friend of Israel.
Ferraro died Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital of complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. She was 75.
She was Walter Mondale’s vice presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party ticket, losing to popular incumbent Ronald Reagan and his running mate George Bush in the general election.
"One of America’s leading advocates for human rights and freedom, Geraldine Ferraro also was a steadfast friend of the State of Israel and Jewish people," said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris. "Her efforts to fight global anti-Semitism within the United Nations were especially noteworthy and laudable."
Ferraro served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva from 1993 to 1996. During her tenure, the commission for the first time cited anti-Semitism as a human rights violation.
When the commission later discussed reforming its agenda structure, Ferraro objected to reform as long as Israel was singled out as the only country in the world addressed under a separate agenda item.
Ferraro was a Democratic congresswoman from the Queens borough of New York who served three terms in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1984.
"Gerry Ferraro was one of a kind — tough, brilliant, and never afraid to speak her mind or stand up for what she believed in — a New York icon and a true American original," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement.
"Today we mourn the passing of a great American success story," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who now represents the Queens and Brooklyn communities represented by Ferraro.