Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić ordered on Wednesday to fly a yellow flag bearing a Star of David at his official residence in the capital of Belgrade to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Flying alongside the Serbian national flag, the pennant, which bears a Star of David and the word “Jude” (German for "Jewish"), is meant to resemble the yellow star badge that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
Vučić shared a post on Twitter in English and Serbian, calling the symbol "a symbol of honor".
"This badge was a symbol of an attempt to destroy the Jews by the Nazis," Vučić wrote. Today it is a symbol of honor. 75 years after, never again".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Vučić for his warm words, and Serbian Ambassador to Israel Milutin Stanojević explained the symbolism behind the gesture.
"The citizens of Serbia fought in the anti-fascist struggle, against the same Nazi enemy," Stanojević said. "We fought and struggled together in the past, and today we fight a different fight, against the rewriting of history and against anti-Semitism. What is happening today in the world, and in Europe in particular, is a dramatic warning sign of anti-Semitism."
President Vučić participated in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.
Of the 16,000 Jews living in Serbia Proper before the Holocaust, approximately 14,500 were murdered.
Serbian civilians were involved in saving thousands of Serbian Jews during this period. As of 2019, Yad Vashem recognizes 139 Serbians as Righteous Among the Nations, the highest of any Balkan country.
During World War Two, approximately 300,000 ethnic Serbians were killed by Nazi Germany and the Croatian fascist group Ustashe.
Many were killed in the infamous Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia; where approximately 100,000 Jews, Serbians, Roma, and Bosnians were murdered.
First published: 20:49 , 01.23.20