Billy Joel: I 'have a right' to wear yellow star

In a recent interview, musician says his father's whole family was murdered in Auschwitz

Recording artist Billy Joel, the latest recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, is honored during a tribute concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, November 19, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS/MARY F. CALVERT)
Recording artist Billy Joel, the latest recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, is honored during a tribute concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, November 19, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MARY F. CALVERT)
In a recent interview with CBS News, Billy Joel defended his decision to wear a yellow Star of David on his chest during a concert last year.
Joel, in the interview that aired Sunday – to mark his 100th show at Madison Square Garden – was asked about his most memorable performances there.
“This past year or so, there was the night I wore the Star of David, after the Charlottesville incident,” Joel said, referring to a white nationalist rally in the city in Virginia in August 2017. One person was killed after a man linked to neo-Nazi groups rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. But US President Donald Trump repeatedly insisted that “there’s blame on both sides.”

That statement enraged Joel, who said he doesn’t usually get political during his shows “because that’s not why people are there.”
But about a week after the incident occurred, when Joel took the stage in Madison Square Garden, he felt moved to action. At one point during the concert, he came out wearing a yellow Star of David on both the back and front of his suit jacket, reminiscent of those many Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.

“I had to do something that night,” Joel told CBS News. “The president said, ‘There’s some good people on... that did that...’ No, Nazis aren’t good people. It really enraged me, actually.”
Joel recounted his own family history, which includes several family members murdered in concentration camps.
“My old man, his family got wiped out,” Joel said. “They were slaughtered in Auschwitz. Him and his parents were able to get out. But then he was in the US Army during the war and fought with [Gen. George] Patton and was shot at by Nazis. But my family suffered. And I think I actually have a right to do that.”
Joel was also asked about the decision in an interview with Vulture, which was published on Monday, and reiterated his stance.
“There are no good Nazis,” he said. “There are no good Ku Klux Klan people. Don’t equivocate that shit... Those creeps are going to march through the streets of my country? Uh-uh. I was personally offended. That’s why I wore that yellow star. I had to do something, and I didn’t think speaking about it was going to be as impactful.”