Musician Bill Joel recently used his sold-out concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden to make a powerful statement about human rights.
During his encore, Joel wore two patches in the shape of the Star of David affixed to his suit jacket. The yellow stars resembled the patches Jewish people were forced to wear as identifiers in Nazi Germany. Joel’s symbolic gesture comes in the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned violent.
Here’s a shot from Instagram of the singer wearing the patch at his concert:
Joel was born to Jewish parents, and he has relatives who died in the Holocaust.
“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.”
Many praised Joel for his actions on social media, including his daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, captioning the photo below of her father wearing the patch, “Now, THIS Is How You Do It. THAT’S MY POP!!! Proud Jewish New Yorker Through & Through!!!!! REPRESENT! STAND STRONG!”
Joel has previously said he doesn’t typically use his concerts to discuss hot-button issues.
“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. 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,'” he told Rolling Stone in June.
Obviously the recent events in Charlottesville were enough to change Joel’s mind.
The Anne Frank Center, which has been raising awareness about the growing wave of neo-Nazism in the United States, which they call “an epidemic of hatred,” tweeted out a message of support for Joel’s symbolic statement:
Joel is not the only star to use his platform to speak out about the recent tragic events. Comedian Jimmy Fallon used the monologue on his late-night show to talk earnestly about his concerns about raising his children amid such violence and racial tension, and other celebrities have spoken out or donated money to fight against hate groups.