A little over a month ago, as anti-Israel activists gathered in Greece expecting to embark on their journey to the Gaza Strip, Ha'aretz published a column by would-be flotilla participant,Gabriel Matthew Schivone ("A Moment before boarding the next flotilla," June 24, 2011).Read the whole thing.
Schivone is identified as "a Chicano-Jewish American from Tucson, and coordinator of Jewish Voice for Peace at the University of Arizona." Schivone begins his column: "You might wonder what would motivate a Jewish American college student to participate in what may be the most celebrated -- and controversial sea voyage of the 21st century. . . ."
Schivone emphasizes his Jewish identity no less than eight times, and repeatedly emphasizes the influence of his identity on his anti-Israel activity. For instance, he writes, "I am one of a growing number of American Jews who are determined to shake off an assumed -- and largely imposed -- association with Israel"; "For our part, we Jews launched an initial chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace at the UA campus. . . ."; "Through JVP, I discovered there were a great many others like me, who were experiencing profound internal conflicts regarding Israel"; ". . . we as Jews had an alternative to either unquestioning support of Israel (the status quo) or staying silent and thus supporting it by default. I myself was silent and timid for much too long.
"We are committed to acting out of Jewish ethical traditions. . . ."
But there is just one problem -- Schivone is not Jewish.
The FringeGroups blog describes this as a phenomenon:
What are we to make of the Schivone Jews ? Gabriel here is the purest form: no Jewish background whatever, but this lack compensated by a strong desire to work against Israel. The old joke was about the fervent anti-Communist being some-sort-of Communist, so, why not, by that logic the anti-Jew surely has claim to being, at the very least, a some-sort-of Jew. This pure form of being a Schivone Jew may be rare, it is the Schivone Jew in the strong sense.
Much less rare is the Schivone Jew in a weaker sense.
Most of the few active anti-Israel Jews that I have known fall into this category. Usually there was a Jewish parent (whether mother or father, in this context, matters little) but a life totally apart from any other Jewish entanglement. The spouse (or, more often, the "partner") would not be Jewish, and, of course, there would not be synagogue membership, except when that involves, as it sometimes does, anti-Israel activism. In short, the self-identification as "Jewish" comes up for one and only one purpose: a life devoted to fighting against Israel. Which brings us to a definition of the Schivone Jew: someone of little or no Jewish background who, nevertheless, petulantly claims a Jewish identify for the sole purpose of agitating against Israel as an aggrieved Jew.
As it happens, Schivone Jews seem to predominate in the major self-styled "Jewish" groups that oppose Israel. This is certainly true of Jewish Voice for Peace (of which Gabriel Schivone is a member and reports "many non-Jewish Americans" as members) and perhaps also of Michael Lerner's Tikkun (which acknowledges that 40% of its readership is non-Jewish).