Billy Joel didn’t verbally address the situation, but his attire spoke loudly about his concerns over the anti-Semitic sentiments expressed at recent alt-right rallies around the country.
During Monday night’s encore at his New York City homecoming, the piano man walked back on stage at Madison Square Garden wearing a jacket with two yellow Stars of David, one over his heart and the other on his back. Jews were forced to wear the symbol to identify them in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Holocaust.
That fashion/political statement was quite the departure for 68-year-old Joel, who in the past had done his best to avoid political rhetoric during his performances.
“I try to stay out of politics,” he said during a Rolling Stone interview earlier this year. “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. I’ve been to shows where people start haranguing the audience about what’s going on politically and I’m thinking, ‘You know, this isn’t why I came here.’”
Recent events seem to have forced Joel’s hand. At last week’s white nationalists rally at Charlottesville, Va., protesters repeatedly made the Nazi salute and chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” Violent clashes with counter-protesters followed.
President Donald Trump stirred up even more controversy by blaming “both sides” for the violence, even following the death of one counter-protester.
Joel’s own protest Monday night might have been silent, but ex-wife Christie Brinkley and their daughter Alexa Ray Joel, who were in the audience, had plenty to stay in support.
“Now, THIS Is How You Do It,” Alexa Ray Joel posted on Instagram. “THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG!”
Brinkley also posted on Instagram: “And on the day of the Solar Eclipse a yellow star appeared on the jacket of another kind of star with a clinched fist that seemed to be gripping painful, no excruciating, memories of loved ones who wore that star to their death.”
Joel was born to Jewish parents, but has been described as an atheist, according to the Huffington Post. He had a number of relatives die during the Holocaust, and his grandfather was forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1938.
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