Star of David causes stir at Serbian pride parade

A Serbian supporter of Israel, Stefan Sparavalo, 24, claimed he was verbally assaulted by several female activists while walking with an Israeli flag. Sparavalo claimed that the activists demanded he put away his flag, as it stands as a symbol for fascism and apartheid.

Sparavalo noted that the attacks against him were led by Dr. Orly Fridman, an Israeli living in Belgrade, who conducts workshops on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Fridman however, denies Sparavalo’s timeline of events, saying that he initiated the incident by vocally protesting a political speech being read by one of the activists who was participating in the parade.

According to Sparavalo, he was verbally attacked and threatened with physical gestures after he refused to put away the flag. “When I told Fridman that her request to put away the flag due to the Star of David amounted to anti-Semitism, she laughed and answered that she could not be an anti-Semite, as she herself is an Israeli.”

Dr. Friedman refutes the claim, telling Ynet: “It never happened. The pride parade includes political speeches. A Serbian peace activist got on stage and read a political text, and then the man began rudely yelling that ‘this is a pride parade, not a left wing political parade.'”

She added that, “While he was yelling, I noticed that he had a pride flag with a Star of David on it, and asked him to stop yelling in the name of the flag, and asked him to let the activist finish her speech.”

“I told him that I was Israeli, and that he was representing my symbol, which represents tolerance and pluralism, and told him to stop trying to silence people. He yelled back that I was an anti-Semite, and that all left wing activists were anti-Semites, while mentioning groups like B’Tselem and Meretz,” she said.

“At that point I stopped interacting with him. I am not an Israeli ambassador and I have my own views. I’m Israeli, and that said, I object to the occupation. I plan on suing the man for slander for calling me an anti-Semite,” she concluded.

In a conversation with Ynet, Sparavalo said he was shaken as a result of the incident, and that he could not believe that “Israelis could be anti-Semites.”

According to him, “I’m in the process of converting, and I want to come to Israel soon.”

“I wanted everyone to hear about the incident because it is horrifying that Israeli left wing activists are actively inciting against their home country, and against someone who is carrying a flag with a Star of David,” he said.

“I don’t want to even think about what would have happened if it were an Israeli flag I was carrying,” he concluded.

Israel’s Ambassador to Serbia Yossi Levy, told Ynet: “We are aware of the incident and are examining the different versions of events. If the claims are true, this is a severe incident, which will be accounted for. The Star of David is the symbol of the Jewish people, a symbol of freedom and hope. We will not allow anyone to harm it.”