Michael Jacobs, 66, a resident of Amsterdam, has been going out five times a week over the past two years to defend Israel at BDS demonstrations against the State of Israel.
"I stand in front of the anti-Israeli demonstrators with the Israeli flag to show them that we will not give up and will not surrender to their lies and pressure to give up our land," Jacobs declares.
He holds his private protests, which last for three hours, in Dam Square and other central sites in the city. "I'm on duty, and I feel like a soldier defending the human morality that is missing in the Netherlands and defending the State of Israel," he says.
Jacobs felt he had to act and confront the boycott activists, who wave PLO flags and signs with false and distorted information about Israel.
"They present Israel in a false and misleading way. They display signs with an erased Star of David, signs of an Israeli flag combined with a swastika of Nazi Germany, and a sign in which a blue Star of David was replaced by a blue cockroach. It is terrible, precisely the Nazis' method," says Jacobs, whose grandparents perished in the Holocaust, as did many of his other relatives.
It makes no differences to Jacobs, a former press photographer, if he's protesting in front of one individual or dozens of demonstrators.
Nurit Dekel, an Israeli acquaintance who supplies him with flags, said the anti-Israeli demonstrators often confront him. "I see how the demonstrators push him and the policemen stand by and watch, and I admire this man and his love for Israel. He pays a price, but that does not deter him,” says Dekel.
"I am ready to fight because my grandparents were murdered for being Jewish; the least I can do is be proud of them,” Jacobs says.
Israeli tourists who pass through Dam Square and see Jacobs standing with an Israeli flag in front of the demonstrators come to support him and often ask to be photographed with him. "Their reactions give me strength," he says.
Jacobs’ counter-protests are a great nuisance for the Amsterdam police. A year ago, the police issued an order requiring him to stand at least 35 meters from the anti-Israel demonstrators and barring him from approaching them. The anti-Israel demonstrators, however, are still allowed to approach him.
The order was recently extended for another 90 days. The BDS demonstrators know about the order, approach him and engage in provocations so that the police will arrest Jacobs, as happened last Sunday.
"50 people were demonstrating against Israel. They wanted to humiliate the Jews and the State of Israel. They tried to steal the Israeli flag that I was waving and eventually they succeeded, but they did not know that I had a spare flag in my coat pocket. One of the demonstrators came and threatened me, and I pushed her in self-defense. The result was that instead of keeping her away, the police threw me down to the ground. It hurt; they handcuffed me and ignored the fact that they stole my flag and humiliated and harassed me for a long time," Jacobs recalls.
Jacobs had to spend a night in detention before being questioned again. The police then announced that he was charged with abuse and even required him to hand over his body camera that documented the incident.
Jacobs has grievous complaints about the Amsterdam police. "My feeling is that there is a left-wing policy in favor of Muslims and against Israel. The Dutch police have a very problematic history. They cooperated fully with the Nazis; there were cities where the Dutch police removed Jews from their homes, without the presence of Nazis,” he complains.
Jacobs lived in Israel for 18 years and served in the IDF during the First Lebanon War. "In the Netherlands, it is commonplace that they refuse to see the Jewish people as a nation. They think we stole the land from the Arabs. People really believe it because they have been saying it on the daily news for 30 years now. They are brainwashing the Dutch people. I see myself as a regular Jew doing tikkun olam (bettering the world). I am proud to be a Jew, I am proud of the flag, I am proud of the Israeli and Jewish tradition," he declares.
Jacobs also takes advantage of his civic right and once in a while he appears in front of the Amsterdam city council. He has spoken there six times. "I lecture about history and tell how 65,000 of Amsterdam’s 80,000 Jews were deported (to concentration camps). It is hardly spoken about in schools. Why is it that the Anne Frank Museum does not stress that the Frank family was persecuted because their Jewishness?"
Jacobs admits that he is afraid that one day someone will hurt him but that does not deter him. "You can get hurt in all kinds of ways, either by cycling or crossing a road,” he says.