Leftist Rocker Sings His Country’s Praises

By Eric Herschthal

Published September 13, 2006, issue of September 15, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In New York to kick off a tour of the United States, Israeli rocker Aviv Geffen visited Columbia University last Tuesday, but not with guitar in hand. Geffen is on the road singing Israel’s praises, not his latest hits.

The scion of a prominent Israeli family (his father is poet Yehonatan Geffen; his great-uncle, Moshe Dayan), Geffen has long been not just a musician but also a committed peacenik and activist.

“I’m from the left wing, the extreme left wing,” he told the Columbia crowd. “I think [Israel] should negotiate with everyone, including Iran.”

Geffen is touring the country as a representative of the World Zionist Organization’s Hagshama Department, a division devoted to cultivating a feeling for Israel among young adults between the ages of 18 and 30. He began his tour earlier this month at Harvard University, and it will still take him to California.

After some introductory remarks in which he spelled out a few of his positions on the big issues of the day, he opened the floor to questions.

Asked whether he thought that Hamas and Hezbollah ever would accept Israel’s right to exist, Geffen said: “I think so. Eventually.”

When pressed on the causes of the recent Lebanon war, he placed the matter in a more global context. “I don’t believe the war [was about Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah vs. Israel,” he said. “I believe it’s about Iran vs. the United States.”

For some in the audience, however, Geffen’s politics were beside the point.

“I don’t know that much about his political views,” said Danielle Slutzky, president of the campus pro-Israel group LionPAC, “but I like his music.”

Geffen released his first album in 1992 and quickly rose to prominence. In a poll taken by The Jerusalem Report in 1995, he ranked as the second most popular Israeli figure in history, second only to late former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. (The poll was taken not long after Rabin was assassinated.) And Geffen’s popularity has not faded. This past March, his single “Tomorrow,” from his latest album, “With the Time,” hit number one on MTV’s World Chart Express.

The singer has mellowed a bit with age. Once known for sporting a glam David Bowie-ish look, his appearance is now more modest.

“I grew up,” he told the Forward. “I think every artist should change.” When asked if his next album would be a political one, Geffen answered, “For sure.” But then he paused, “I have to sit down and think about it.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.