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!
  • When filmmaker Nasya Kamrat sought for a way to commemorate the story of her grandfather, a Polish Holocaust survivor, she had an unusual idea: use his paintings for an animated Holocaust documentary. http://jd.fo/p4RGf
  • As part of the Forward's 50-state project, Anne Cohen and Sigal Samuel are setting out on a journey through Dixie. To get you in the mood, here’s a brief history of Jewish road trips: http://jd.fo/q4RYl
  • "1. Sex. She had it. She liked it. She didn’t make a big deal of it." What were your favorite Elaine moments on Seinfeld?
  • "Mamie Eisenhower had one, and if you came of age during the 1950s, chances are you had one, too. I’m referring to the charm bracelet, that metallic cluster of miniaturized icons that hung from, and often strained, the wrist of every self-respecting, well-dressed woman in postwar America." Do you have charm bracelet memories? Share them with us!
  • How the Gaza War started — and how it can end:
  • This could be the first ancient synagogue mosaic to feature a non-biblical narrative.
  • "Suddenly we heard a siren, but it was very faint. We pulled the kids out of the pool, and then we heard a big boom."
  • Why the bloody onslaught in Gaza is built on politics and lies: Read and share this explosive insight from J.J. Goldberg.
  • The crisis in Israel caught two interns — an Israeli and a Palestinian — far from home. Guess what? They're still friends.
  • The gang's all here!
  • "Neither the 'blood feud' nor the 'honor killing' theory of Abu Khdeir's murder ever made sense — and their manufacture constituted a blood libel against all Palestinians." What do you think?
  • Why hasn't the Zionist Organization of American condemned the revenge killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir?
  • Why recognize an independent Kurdistan now?
  • So. Many. Nazi. Jokes.
  • 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.