Freund expressed his appreciation for the award, writing in a letter to Vučić that “In recent years, and especially under your leadership, relations between Israel and Serbia have flourished,” adding that “there have been strong historical ties between Jews and Serbs for centuries.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić decorated Shavei Israel chief and Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund at the suggestion of the Association of Jewish Communities of Serbia (SAVEZ) and the Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) for his work in building Israel-Serbia relations.
Vučić bestowed the Gold Medal of Merit to Freund, who is also currently the president of the Israel-Serbia Friendship Association. Due to the pandemic, President of the UNS Vladimir Radomirović accepted the award of Freund’s behalf. The award is the highest honor given to non-citizens.
Beyond his work on Israel-Serbia relations, Freund has written extensively on the history of Serbian Jews fortThe Jerusalem Post, which was taken into consideration for the award.
“Our peoples lived and died together. We are both small nations surrounded by hostile forces, proud of our traditions and cultures, who have seen our homelands invaded and occupied throughout history. During World War II, the evil Ustashe regime murdered Serbs and Jews side by side at Jasenovac. And yet, despite the difficulties, neither Serbs nor Jews ever gave up, and we both stand proudly on the world stage as sovereign, independent states,” Freund added.
Freund remarked in the end that he hopes to visit Belgrade soon and personally meet with President Vučić.
The Association of Jewish Communities of Serbia (SAVEZ) is the country’s EJC affiliate.