Noa Kirel accidentally reignites row with Poland over role in Holocaust

A Polish official attacked the star on Twitter after she said her family died in the country


Singer Noa Kirel performs on behalf of Israel during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2023 on May 13, 2023 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, northern England. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Eurovision competitor Noa Kirel has become embroiled in a row with the Polish government after they attacked comments she made in the wake of her third-place finish in the Liverpool competition.

Speaking to Israeli media after her podium finish, Kirel said that it was an "honour" to receive the maximum 12 points from Poland as her family had been murdered in the country during the Shoah.

She told Israeli public broadcaster Kan12: “When Poland gives Israel 12 points, after almost the entire Kirel family was murdered in the Holocaust, it is a victory,”

In another interview with Ynet, she said: “To receive 12 points from Poland, after the history of my family and of the people of Israel in the Holocaust, moments like that are really a victory,”

Kirel, who visited Auschwitz with her father in 2019, was referring to her Polish-born Jewish family members who were killed at the camp.

But some Poles took issue with her statements, reigniting a longstanding row between Poland and Israel over Holocaust education and the teaching of Poland's role during the Shoah.

In a statement on Facebook, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński blamed Israeli-run tours of Poland for providing an inaccurate view of Polish behaviour during World War II.

He said: "The fact that many people in Israel see Poland as an accomplice of German crimes - rather than their victim - is often the result of not so much malice as lack of knowledge and incomplete education.

"There are many reasons, but one of them certainly was the form of organized trips of Israeli youth to Poland, for many years, which unfortunately proved their participants in this very image of our country."

Jabłoński, who is responsible for redesigning the programmes of Israeli tours to Poland also said:“The longer and more effectively we work on it, the less there will be bad stereotypes or untrue and painful statements for millions of people in Poland, such as the one by Noa Kirel."

Jabłoński's statement touched on a sensitive area between Poland and Israel, who cut diplomatic ties in 2018 over a controversial Polish law which outlawed blaming Poles for the Holocaust, despite significant academic evidence of Polish collaboration with the Nazis.

A new deal passed this year between Israel and Poland to restore diplomatic ties between the countries increases Polish control over Israeli student trips to the country - a longstanding tradition in Israeli schools, in which tens of thousands of teenagers participate every year.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive