A Eurovision Star From Israel Tells the Sun That the ‘World Needs To Know the Truth of What’s Going On’ 

‘I feel this is my duty to be here to tell this story,’ Noa Kirel says of Israel’s resilience in the face of Hamas’s attack.

Derlis Chavarria for The New York Sun
Noa Kirel interviewed by the Sun, October 12, 2023, at New York City. Derlis Chavarria for The New York Sun

At 22 years old, Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, fresh off a third-place finish in the Eurovision competition, is emerging as a leading face of the Jewish state on the international stage. 

Following the attacks against Israelis by Hamas terrorists last week, Ms. Kirel, who boasts nearly 2 million followers on Instagram, is more committed than ever to demonstrating the strength of her country, both for her people at home and overseas.

M.J. Koch interviews Noa Kirel for The New York Sun. October 12, 2023. Via Derlis Chavarria

“As an artist, I feel it is my duty to be here to tell the story,” Ms. Kirel says in conversation with the Sun at the newspaper’s office at New York City. “The world needs to know the truth and what’s going on.” 

Ms. Kirel was in America for work when Hamas attacked from Gaza on October 7. Now that her country is being ravaged by war, she says, “I’ve canceled everything.” She’s spent the past few days speaking to her youngest fans back home: “I’m 24/7 talking with them on FaceTime and trying to be there and support them in this hard time.” 

Among those Ms. Kirel has spoken to is an eight year old girl whose father was murdered by Hamas. To hear this tragic story told by “such a young beautiful angel,” she says, is “heartbreaking.” Ms. Kirel asserts: “I need to be strong for her.”

As the violence unfolds, nearly every person in Israel is connected to someone who has been murdered or is being held hostage by Hamas terrorists. “Everyone is scared. Even me. I’m going to sleep at night and I keep thinking about my family,” Ms. Kirel, who hails from the city of Ra’Anana, just north of Tel Aviv, says. “I don’t know if the human brain can really understand what’s going on, but at this time, I still really believe that music can connect between people.”

Ms. Kirel began her career as a singer, dancer, and actress at age 14, and soon decided, as she tells the Sun, that she “wanted to be global.” In May, Ms. Kirel, representing Israel, placed third in the international song competition Eurovision held at Liverpool, England, which drew 162 million viewers. “It was always my dream,” she reflects, “to represent Israel on the music side.” 

Now, with those 1.8 million Instagram followers and tens of millions more who listen to her songs, Ms. Kirel says, “I really want to take advantage of my power. I know people are listening to me, not only in Israel but all over the world.” 

The Sun asked Ms. Kirel about the role of music in the current moment. She notes that one of the most horrific targets of Hamas’s atrocities was the Supernova Sukkot Gathering music festival, near the Gaza border, where “people that just came to celebrate music and dancing and celebrate peace got killed and murdered and slaughtered.”

In the face of unprecedented challenges, music can provide “relief,” Ms. Kirel affirms. She plans to focus her future creative projects on themes of peace and healing, with the aim of uplifting Israel’s youngest citizens, many of whom have been tragically targeted during the war.

Other cultural icons around the world are demonstrating solidarity with Israel. At a show last weekend, the lead singer of the rock band U2, Paul David Hewson, known as Bono, changed a lyric in one of his hit songs to the “stars of David.” One of the most vocal celebrities this week was an Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, who told her fans on Instagram: “I stand with Israel, you should too.”

Ms. Kirel’s leadership was on full display on Thursday night at New York City, when she sang the Israeli national anthem at a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and an Israeli team, Maccabi Ra’Anana. With the Jewish state’s flag wrapped around her shoulders, Ms. Kirel proclaimed to the teary-eyed crowd — “Am Yisrael Hai,” meaning, “The people of Israel live.”

“The lyrics are getting more power right now,” Ms. Kirel says of the anthem, “Hatikvah,” which means, “The Hope.” The Israeli team’s coach, Yehu Orland, said in an interview after the game that the performance brought him to tears. 

Yet Ms. Kirel sees her role in this moment as comprising more than just music. “I feel like it’s bigger than me,” she says. This week, she’s encouraged her fans to donate to the scores of humanitarian aid funds she’s shared on social media. Asked by the Sun how Americans can provide support for the Jewish state, she says, “If they know any Israeli or Jewish people, pray for them.”


The New York Sun

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