Billy Joel struck a chord against the rising profile of neo-Nazis at his Madison Square Garden concert Monday night.
For his four-song encore, Joel wore a bright yellow Star of David on the front and back of his black suit. Cheers went up in the crowd when a close-up of Joel wearing the symbol was shown on the main video screen.
He made no comment onstage about why he was wearing the symbol for Jewish identity. On Tuesday, Joel issued a statement quoting Irish statesman Edmund Burke, saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Through a representative, Joel declined to further comment.
Joel wore the star — similar to those that Nazis required Jewish people to wear during the Holocaust — a little more than a week after the counterprotest that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched against the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Earlier in the show, following his hit “Pressure,” Joel made a reference to the difficult summer, but added, “I ain’t gonna get into that [expletive]. I’m just going to play the same old songs because that’s my job.”
However, he did throw some gentle jabs at former officials in the Trump administration — including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, former press secretary Sean Spicer, and former communications director Anthony Scaramucci — as their pictures showed on the main video screen while guest Patty Smyth sang her hit “Goodbye to You” with Joel and his band.
Joel’s daughter Alexa Ray Joel — who was at the concert, along with his wife, Alexis, and their daughter, Della Rose — was quick to support his statement on social media, as was her mom, Joel’s ex-wife Christie Brinkley.
“Thank you Billy for reminding people what was . . . so it may never ever be again,” Brinkley wrote on her Instagram.
Alexa Ray Joel beamed with pride on her Instagram, writing, “Now, THIS Is How You Do It. THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG! #HellYES #NewYorkStateOfMind #ProudJew #NewYorkStrong #FightForLoveAndInclusion #DiversityMakesAmericaGreat.”
The subject is close to Joel’s heart, considering many of his relatives died in the Holocaust and his paternal grandfather, Karl Joel, had to flee Nazi Germany in 1938, eventually settling in America after living in Switzerland and Cuba.
“I’ve read a lot of this history and because it affected my own upbringing, it’s hard not to take it personally,” Joel told author Fred Schruers in his book “Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography.” “There’s a long history of anti-Semitism that was simmering for generations. Hitler tapped into it.”