Pop sensation Justin Bieber was condemned by a leading European rabbi after making a gesture interpreted by the latter as a Nazi salute during a Tuesday concert in Finland.
But the singer’s Israeli promoters rejected the accusation, saying the gesture was only a dance move.
“Not everything has to do with the Jewish people,” they said in a statement.
Bieber, 28, was performing in front of 20,000 fans in Helsinki, Finland when he started marching across the stage with his hand raised, in a move that could be seen as reminiscent of goose-stepping Nazi soldiers performing the seig heil salute.
“The famous singer slapped the faces of millions of Jews across the world when he chose to perform the ‘sieg heil’ movement that symbolizes identification with Nazi party values,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said Wednesday.
Goldschmidt, who left his home in Russia for Israel in June due to opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, called on the Israeli government to cancel an upcoming performance by the pop singer in response to his “disgraceful” act.
Bieber is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on October 13.
“It is unthinkable that a singer with tens of millions of fans and followers around the world allows himself to adopt such conduct on European soil soaked with the blood of millions of Jews and other minorities, who were brutally murdered by the Nazi oppressor,” the rabbi said.
Justin Bieber is filmed doing the “Seig Heil” at a concert in Finland
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Bieber has been filmed at other concerts marching in a similar way. The move, called a “stomp,” is part of an apparent in-joke between the singer and his legion of ultra-loyal fans.
The company promoting Bieber’s show in Israel said the steps had nothing to do with Nazis.
“These are dance moves…Dance moves are meant to entertain. Not everything has to do with the Jewish people, with all the love we have for ourselves,” a representative of Nidar Oz Communications said.
Scooter Braun, the star’s manager, identifies as Jewish and is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Bieber shared his manager’s Instagram post commemorating the 6,000,000 Jews murdered.
The Canadian has performed in Israel on two previous occasions, in 2011 and 2017.
In 2013, he drew controversy when he wrote in the visitors book at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that he hoped the young Holocaust victim would have been a member of his Bielebers fan club.