• Aviv Geffen performing on stage, 27 August, 2016 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Nir Roitman

The Punk Who Built Bridges

- 21 February 2023

Coming from a family of celebrity Israelis, Aviv Geffen had big shoes to fill. His father Yonatan, is a popular author and poet. His sister is a famous actress and his great uncle was none other than the legendary Israeli General and former Defence Minister, Moshe Dayan. And like many other kids who come from celebrity families, Aviv also did not find it easy. Truth be told, during the 1990’s Israelis weren’t finding anything easy anymore. Palestinians were blowing up buses spreading a new form of terror throughout the population.  A social response to the fear and futility of death led to the formation of the Israeli punk scene. And teenage Aviv Geffen lead the way.

Aviv Geffen 2010 portrait | Photo: Wikimedia Commons by The7eyeorg.il

Dyeing his hair green, piercing his nose, and bellowing out controversial lyrics against settlers and the IDF, the unhappy Aviv lead the young Israeli youth through hard hitting songs.  The despondent were looking for meaning. Aviv’s style spoke to them. His, personality and hardcore lyrics struck such a strong chord that the thousands who followed him came to be known as the “Moonlight Children.”


On 4 November 1995, the peace parties organised a rally. Aviv Geffen performed his famous song “Cry for You.” That evening saw the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and the song, written way before the tragic event, became an anthem. It went on to symbolise the Candle Children, that lost Israeli generation who mourned Rabin’s death with memorial candles.

Like him or loathe him, the young Aviv Geffen was a controversial character. His music helped to culturally polarise aspects of Israeli society. He unified the despondent Left, and estranged the Right. Most often within the sites of his musical gun barrel were the ultra-orthodox Jews and the settlers, who he was convinced were the reason for Palestinian terrorism.

Thirty years after he released his very first song, the Corona pandemic struck the world. The virus spread widely among the Hasidic community, mainly due to their adherence to a tight community life. This brought a lot of antagonism towards these religious people.

“At one of his concerts Aviv Geffen stood up and declared that all Jews were his brothers and sisters even if their customs were different from his own”

Astonishingly, it took the divisive Israeli punk artist to calm the waters. At one of his concerts Aviv Geffen stood up and declared that all Jews were his brothers and sisters even if their customs were different from his own. He made the news again when at one of his concerts he publicly apologised for his past views against the settlers. In front of thousands, he admitted that he was then trying to please his fans. He said he had spoken out of ignorance and the belittlement of the other.

The Israeli now 49-year-old singer announced that his music would now be used to forge unity. In doing so, he infuriated some but made new friends with those he was once estranged from.

Aviv Geffen’s music may certainly not be to everyone’s taste, but he is a true artist in that he continues to make waves and surprise us all.

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