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Haddy the Hebrew: Noa Kirel’s got chutzpah

Noa Kirel has long been a household name in Israel. She is a pop star who has had a number of hits and has recently been gaining attention abroad. I, as someone who tries very hard to keep up with Israeli pop culture, have dipped in and out of Kirel’s music. It is very classically pop, with some Middle Eastern-style beats and many of her songs are in Hebrew. She has recently gained international attention as well due to her being named as the Israeli representative to Eurovision, which Israel recently won in 2018. 

Kirel is now an international star, not just an Israeli one, and has started this new turn in her career with something quite shocking. At the MTV EMAs (at which she was named best Israeli act for the fifth year in a row) on Nov. 13, she wore a top covered in gold chains with the Jewish symbol of the Star of David as well as pants and gloves covered in similar chains as well. Printed on the gloves and pants were Kanye West’s face with the chains placed to make it look like the rapper was wearing the Stars. 

The statement was clear. Kirel, a 21-year-old Israeli woman, a pop singer who is just at the beginning of her international recognition, was using this very public, very important moment in her career to take a stand against West’s antisemitic remarks. I have written more than enough on West for now, so I am going to instead focus as much as I can on Kirel. 

There is a Yiddish term that has become a part of Hebrew-Israeli vernacular, and a popular word among Jews around the world: chutzpah. Chutzpah can be translated to nerve, or moxie, and is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “supreme self-confidence”. Chutzpah is what it took for such a young, rising star to make a statement like this against West, a long-established public figure who is quite a bit older. To further this act of chutzpah, the EMAs took place in Dusseldorf, Germany, of which Kirel said “After the Holocaust and all that history, it was very important to me to make a statement (there) and to bring my culture and represent Israel.” So, not only was Kirel making an important statement on West’s antisemitism, she was doing it in a country where Jews were terrorized and taken from their homes, in the very city where the Kemna Concentration Camp once stood. 

Kirel is nothing short of brave to have made such a huge statement at this pivotal moment of her career. She saw an issue and she took action without really having to say anything. Her clothes spoke for her as she received her award and mingled with other celebrities in attendance, even earning herself a compliment from Taylor Swift which, unless you live under a rock, you know is huge given Swift and West’s longstanding feud

I don’t believe that this is the last we’ll hear of Kirel or her chutzpah. She said, of her statement-making outfit “after all the anti-Semitic things that Kanye said about Jewish people– and I’m Jewish– I know, I had to have something that will be more powerful on the red carpet.” Kirel is making it clear that she wants to use her voice for good, and wants to make sure her statements will be heard and seen. 

Although this move on Kirel’s part may not seem very big– how much can a budding pop star really do with one red carpet appearance?– her choice was a brave act of defiance in the face of rising antisemitism. I hope that this will inspire other famous Jews to take a stand larger than just an Instagram story post. 

Hadass Galili is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.

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