Boycott this

Dutch activist promotes BDS on an Israeli-made mobility scooter

Robert-Willem van Norren mocked by pro-Israel activists for holding anti-Israel protests while sitting on a scooter assembled on a kibbutz

Robert-Willem van Norren promoting a boycott of Israel atop an Israel-made mobility scooter in January 2019. (Michael Jacobs via JTA)
Robert-Willem van Norren promoting a boycott of Israel atop an Israel-made mobility scooter in January 2019. (Michael Jacobs via JTA)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Regardless of where one stands on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there’s no denying the devotion of some of the activists involved in the cause.

Take Robert-Willem van Norren: He’s a middle-aged Dutch supporter of the boycott against Israel movement, and he regularly braves all kinds of weather, as well as his own disability, to promote his cause. He sits for hours on end in his mobility scooter on Amsterdam’s Dam Square, waving Palestinian flags and anti-Israel posters three times a week.

There’s just one problem with that picture, though: His scooter was made in Israel.

More precisely, it is the Breeze S3 model of the Kalnoit brand, designed and assembled in Kibbutz Afikim in Israel’s Jordan Valley, which began its existence as a military base during Israel’s war of independence in 1948.

Van Norren, who is one of the Netherlands’ best-known anti-Israel activists and who enjoys displaying a poster of the Israeli flag with a cockroach or a swastika over the Star of David symbol, was pictured in July using a different scooter with a retro design resembling a Harley Davidson. But he has since switched to the slicker Israel-made scooter, which he has decorated with Palestinian flags and a sticker reading “free Palestine, boycott Israel.”

He did not reply to questions on the issue.

Michael Jacobs, a pro-Israel activist who regularly faces off with van Norren and other anti-Israel activists on the Dam, was the one to make the discovery. He said his claim was confirmed by the importer of the Kalnoit mobility scooters to the Netherlands.

Pro-Israel activists in Holland have rejoiced over the origin of the scooter.

Hidde J. van Koningsveld, who heads the CiJo pro-Israel group, called it a “fun fact” and a “#BDSFail” on Twitter.

He also noted that van Norren’s fellow anti-Israel activist, Simon Vrouwe, was recently photographed taking a break from his own Israel protesting to grab a bite at the Maoz falafel shop near the Dam, which is part of a chain started by the Israel-born Dutch businessman Dov Melo.

Vrouwe was wearing a vest reading “boycott Israel” while piling on the Israel-made pickles that Maoz is known for.

“Van Norren is in good company: his fellow professional demonstrator Simon Vrouwe was recently spotted in the Israeli falafel tent Maoz,” van Koningsveld said.

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