Celebrity Billy Joel’s donning of a yellow Star of David at a Madison Square Garden concert was surprising, given his previous criticism of performers pushing their political agendas.
Famous American singer/songwriter Billy Joel made a strong statement Monday evening at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where he wore a yellow Star of David for his concert performance.
Ahead of World War II, Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were forced to wear a yellow Star of David as a means of identifying themselves as Jews.
Joel, 68, was born Jewish but is not religiously observant and considers himself a cultural Jew. Known to refrain from making political statements onstage, his choice of attire – clearly a political statement – was unusual.
“I try to stay out of politics. I am a private citizen and I have a right to believe in my own political point of view, but I try not to get up on a soapbox and tell people how to think,” he told Rolling Stone Magazine in June.
While many celebrities had publicly denounced US President Donald Trump during the 2016 national election campaign as well as after his victory, Joel told Time Magazine, “Who cares about the political opinions of a piano player?”
Yet his preference for Democratic leader Hillary Clinton and disdain for Trump were no secret.
‘I Have No Desire to Influence Anyone’
“I have no desire to influence anyone to think as I do. My personal opinion shouldn’t matter to anyone with their own free will,” he told the New York Daily News at the time. If Trump were to win, he added, he would not perform at the inauguration. “I won’t be anywhere near that place,” he said.
His decision to make such a powerful statement Monday evening was inspired by the violence at the Charlottesville rally a week ago Saturday, when an alt-right protester rammed his car into a crowd of people, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding many others. The protesters, mostly neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, chanted threatening racist and anti-Semitic slogans on the city streets – a scene that shocked the nation seven decades after the Holocaust.
The US president, in his initial statement, condemned the violence on “both sides,” referring also to a counter-demonstration organized by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, which attended illegally and was also aggressive. His words deeply offended a majority of Americans, who resented what they considered to be “moral equivalence” and expected him to issue an outright condemnation of the neo-Nazis.
The next day, he specifically denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, saying, “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
In another statement to the press a day later, however, he defended his initial reaction. “I think there is blame on both sides,” the president insisted. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
Criticism of Trump was rampant, with many accusing him of enabling the alt-right, claiming his statement against them was too little and too late.
Mixed Reaction to Joel’s Stunt
Reaction to Joel’s appearance was mixed. On social media, one person tweeted, “So dope seeing Billy Joel live and seeing him take a stand to the hate in our country. Wearing the Star of David is a huge statement.”
“OK, so Billy Joel has lost his mind,” read another.
“WHAT A JERK!! Wearing a yellow star is an insult to the memory of the millions that were murdered by the Nazis,” a woman posted on Facebook.
Yet another post read: “Thank you Billy Joel for standing up against the dregs of American society. I appreciate that you try to stay out of politics, but some things just must be addressed. A thousand thumbs-up!”
In another dig at the concert against Trump, whose administration has had its share of upheaval in the seven months since he assumed the presidency, Joel and singer Patty Smyth sang a hit song, “Goodbye to You,” while a screen flashed images of former White House staffers fired by the president, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former communications adviser Anthony Scaramucci.
By: Adina Katz, World Israel News