Reclaiming the swastika


A swastika banner will fly over New York City and appear in other major cities around the world this Saturday.

No, the Nazis aren’t invading. This Saturday marks the fourth annual World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, organized by the International Raelian Movement. Founded in 1974, the movement claims more than 70,000 members in 104 countries who believe, according to the group’s website, that “thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.”

The name of that alien race, by the way? Elohim.

The swastika features prominently in Raelian imagery, particularly in the religion’s symbol – a swastika interlocking with a Star of David. The swastika stands for infinity in time, while the two triangles making up the star represent infinity in space.

One of the movement’s goals is to reclaim the swastika, which was primarily a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions prior to the rise of the Nazi party, according to the ProSwastika Alliance. Swastika Reclamation Day events will be held Saturday in New York, Los Angeles, Switzerland, France and Australia. Because of Shabbat, the Raelians will mark the day in Tel Aviv today.

“We want to fully rehabilitate this symbol that’s so dear to billions of people,” said Thomas Kaenzig, Raelian guide and president of the ProSwastika Alliance in a statement. “It’s been used for thousands of years as a symbol of wellbeing and good luck, so when Westerners interpret it as meaning something ugly just because the Nazis used it, our society denies millions of people the right to live their religion freely.”

The character Alan Harper on the CBS show “Two and a Half Men,” after having a Hitler mustache drawn on his face once, commented that it was actually a good look, but “one guy had to ruin it for everyone.” Clearly, Kaenzig and company refuse to accept that.

Swastika banners startle New Yorkers, others in area


A swastika on the banner of an airplane startled beach-goers in New York and surrounding states.

The banner included the word swastika and a swastika intertwined with a Star of David, the symbol of the Raelian movement. On Saturday it flew over New York, Long Island and New Jersey, while another flew over Los Angeles, according to reports.

The banners marked the third annual Swastika Rehabilitation Day sponsored by the Raelian movement, which was founded in 1974, and says that it has more than 70,000 members in 104 countries. Followers believe, according to the group’s website, that “thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.”

Police and Jewish organizations received complaints about the swastika banners.

“The swastika is one of the best traces left by those who created us, and the attempt to bury it as a symbol of violence and hatred only gives credit to the horrible Nazi ideology,” Thomas Kaenzig, coordinator of World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, had said in a statement prior to the event. “Demystifying the original meaning of this beautiful symbol is the only solution.”

The Raelians also invited Buddhists, Hindus and a number of spiritual groups who use the swastika as their spiritual symbol to show support for the day. Prior to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, the swastika was primarily considered a symbol of peace and good luck in many Eastern religions.