British pop superstar Robbie Williams said in a interview published Monday that while he feels more Jewish than Catholic, he does not plan to convert to Judaism, apparently put off — at least in part — by the idea of circumcision.
In 2006, Williams married actress Ayda Field, a Turkish-American Jew.
“I am a Catholic who has distanced himself from religion, and [Ayda] is a Jew who has distanced herself from religion – but it is important that we have a tribe. It’s important to have a sense of belonging.” Williams told the Walla news site.
“You know, I feel more Jewish than I feel Catholic,” Williams said, explaining that that he and his wife celebrate some of the Jewish holidays and traditions with their four children, such as Hanukkah and Passover, and that he “even considered conversion to Judaism” himself.
When the interviewer explained that such a process would entail a painful circumcision operation, Williams jokingly cried out in pain and responded, “‘No, no, no, I’ll just identify myself as a Jew.”
Williams added: “Please write that he said it with ‘a twinkle in his eye’ because this sentence can easily be taken out of context. I can just imagine the headlines: ‘Robbie Williams identifies as a Jew'” adding “and suddenly I’m Sam Smith. Which is fine for Sam Smith. I identify as a Jew but I also identify as Cristiano Ronaldo!” he said, apparently referring to Smith’s gender identity.
The 49-year-old star, who last performed in Israel in 2015, said in an interview with Israel Hayom earlier this week that he’s been facing pressure to avoid Israel for political reasons, but is looking forward to his June 1 show.
Williams gave the interviews ahead of the highly anticipated “Summer in the City” music festival, being held for the first time this year in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park.
Alongside Williams, the lineup is to include English singer-songwriter Sam Smith, American metal band Papa Roach, Calum Scott of “Britain’s Got Talent” fame, and Dutch DJ and music producer Martin Garrix. The event, which is to take place May 31-June 1, is expected to be one of the highest-profile music festivals the country has ever seen.
The BDS movement has for years called on international artists not to appear in Israel, with limited success. Musicians like Lorde and Lana Del Rey made headlines for canceling shows in Israel in recent years, but Tel Aviv remains a destination for many international artists. However, many performers are reluctant to add Israel to their itineraries in the first place, leading to what some see as a “silent boycott” of the Jewish state.