Israeli singing star Noa Kirel trades sequins for IDF uniform

Her willingness to join the IDF stands in contrast to a number of other high-profile entertainment industry celebrities, who found ways to be excused from their service.

Noa Kirel poses on a red carpet as she arrives at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards at the FIBES Conference and Exhibition Centre in Seville, Spain, November 3, 2019 (photo credit: JON NAZCA/ REUTERS)
Noa Kirel poses on a red carpet as she arrives at the 2019 MTV Europe Music Awards at the FIBES Conference and Exhibition Centre in Seville, Spain, November 3, 2019
(photo credit: JON NAZCA/ REUTERS)
Israeli singing star Noa Kirel joined the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday, although her army service won’t be quite like that of a typical 18-year-old recruit.
She will be on a special musical track, the “Talent” track, where she will have her own band, rather than joining an existing army band. She was accompanied for her enlistment at the Tel Hashomer induction center by her parents, her manager and her boyfriend, Yonatan Margi, also a singer, who joined the army last year.
In an interview with the Pnai Plus website, she said she knew she would be going to Camp 80 and would be there for about three weeks.
Kirel has been one of Israel’s most successful singers for the past four years.
“I haven’t slept all night, I was so excited,” she told Pnai Plus. There was never any doubt that she would enlist, she said, adding: “It’s something I’ve always wanted. I have a strong military past, my grandfather, my dad. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be recruited or not, because I have a kidney problem... but we did retests... I want to serve as an example for boys and girls to enlist. It was very important to me.”
Her willingness to join the IDF stands in contrast to a number of other high-profile entertainment industry celebrities who found ways to be excused from their service. Bar Refaeli, the model who has recently been embroiled in a tax-evasion case, married a family friend to avoid military service, since married women are not drafted.
In a 2007 interview with Yediot Aharonot, Refaeli angered many Israelis by saying: “I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs... Israel or Uganda, what difference does it make? It makes no difference to me. Why is it good to die for our country? What, isn’t it better to live in New York? Why should 18-year-old kids have to die? It’s dumb that people have to die so that I can live in Israel.”
In 2013, Refaeli appeared in an Israeli government publicity campaign, which generated controversy when many criticized the decision to use her because of her draft dodging.
In 2007, when Joseph Cedar’s Oscar-nominated Lebanon war drama Beaufort was released, there was criticism over the fact that most of the cast, who played soldiers, had not served in the IDF. Cedar emphasized in interviews at the time of the film’s release that the cast had not dodged the draft but had been released from their service on medical or psychological grounds.
But many young Israeli stars do serve, among them singer Roni Duani, aka Roni Superstar.
For an older generation, the army entertainment troupes actually made them into stars. One of Israel’s most beloved singers, the late Arik Einstein, was a shy teen until his service in the Nahal Army Entertainment Troupe launched his career. Danny Sanderson, Yossi Banai and Shalom Hanoch also served in the Nahal Band.
Avi Nesher’s hit 1978 film The Troupe focused on the competition and dramas in an IDF entertainment troupe.
Perhaps the most famous military recruit of all time was US superstar Elvis Presley. Presley joined the military at the height of his career in 1958 and served in Germany for two years.