Serbian president tells ‘Post’ he will buy weapons from Israel

Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić announced that his country is planning to open a diplomatic mission and an economic office in Jerusalem.

WASHINGTON—The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, told The Jerusalem Post that he intends to buy weapons from Israel in an interview on Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual policy conference in Washington.

In a response to questions about the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign in Western Europe targeting Israel, Vučić said the Serbian purchase of weapons from Israel will “not be a small delivery..

His remarks and action can be viewed as stinging rejoinder to the BDS campaign. Austrian’s parliament last week classified BDS as antisemitic. Vučić stressed that Serbia is “not a fertile ground for antisemitic messages," but rather that BDS is non-existent in Serbia. This is in contrast to a flourishing BDS movement in Western Europe.

“No one has heard of the boycott movement in Serbia," he said..

Vučić, who is widely viewed a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish diaspora, spoke earlier at the conference, which draws 18,000 people from around the world. During his speech, he announced that his country plans on opening a diplomatic mission and an economic office in Jerusalem.

"We’re going to open very soon not only an office of our chamber of commerce but, together with our chamber of commerce, an official state office in Jerusalem with a Serbian official flag alongside our embassy in Tel Aviv," the president said.

Vučić told the Post that his country “will always to do our best to align our interests with Israel..

The Post asked the president about his country’s voting pattern at the UN where Israel is routinely, according to the Netanyahu administration, targeted with bias. Vučić said in connection with anti-Israel resolutions that “we can always abstain..

Vučić said it is up to the Palestinians and Israelis to reach a settlement covering their territorial dispute. He “welcomed President Trump’s initiative on that..

Serbia was the first country that passed legislation permitting restitution of unclaimed Jewish property seized during the Holocaust.

His paternal grandfather was murdered by the Nazi-supported Croatian fascist Ustaše during World War II. The Croatian fascists expelled his family and they resettled near Belgrade.

Vučić is well-versed in the dangers of lethal antisemitism and fascism, as well, and he energetically advocated for a memorial for the Staro Sajmiste concentration camp in Belgrade, where the Serbs, Jews and Roma were murdered during Hitler Germany’s occupation of the Balkan country.

"Jews fought neck and neck with the Serbian people" against the fascists and Nazis in WWII, said Vučić.

Vučić’ initiated a remembrance day for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in January. A yellow flag, reminiscent of the badges Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, is being flown in Serbia as a “badge of honor” to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the country’s president has said.

"Never again," he told the Post.

The flag, featuring a Star of David and the word “Jude,” is being flown alongside the country’s national flag, above the north entrance to the Novi Dvor, or "New Palace" in Belgrade, the official seat of the president of Serbia. Its design evokes the yellow badges Jews across Europe were forced to wear under threat of death, when much of the continent fell under Nazi occupation between 1939 and 1945.