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July 18, 2013 0

Raelians Plan “Swastika Rehabilitation Day” For July 20

A fringe reli­gious sect known as the Raelian Move­ment has announced plans for its fourth annual “Swastika Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Day,” sched­uled for July 20.  “Swastika Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Day” activ­i­ties sched­uled for the United States on that day include events at Cop­ley Square in Boston, on bicy­cles on Chicago’s lake front, in Las Vegas on the Strip, in Los Ange­les at the Santa Mon­ica Pier, in the air over New York City, at Point State Park in Pitts­burgh, on the River­walk in San Anto­nio, and in the Cas­tro Dis­trict of San Francisco.raelian-logo

The Raelian Move­ment is a small reli­gious move­ment based pri­mar­ily in West­ern Europe, with some adher­ents in North Amer­ica, Japan, and even Israel.  Its logo con­sists of a Star of David inter­twined with a swastika—a rather star­tling image.  Although peo­ple often report sight­ings of the Raelian logo as a hate sym­bol, the Raelians use the swastika not in its Nazi con­text but in its East Asian con­text as a sym­bol of good for­tune.  For a time in the 1990s, the Raelians shifted to a less con­tro­ver­sial logo, but they soon returned to the orig­i­nal version.

It is because of their logo that the Raelians have for decades been active in so-called “swastika reha­bil­i­ta­tion,” efforts that to date have not achieved their desired pur­pose and are unlikely to do so any time soon, at least in West­ern soci­ety.  The Raelians’ other con­tro­ver­sial cam­paign, their “Go Top­less” cam­paign for women, has also won lit­tle but notoriety.

The Raelian Move­ment was started in the 1970s by a for­mer French race car dri­ver, Claude Voril­hon (now known as Rael); its beliefs cen­ter around advanced extrater­res­trial civ­i­liza­tions.  It does not have a his­tory of violence. 

The most prob­lem­atic aspect related to the Raelians is their opin­ions about other reli­gions.  Though they pro­fess to be tol­er­ant and in most respects live up to such claims, this is not always true when it comes to “com­pet­ing” sets of reli­gious beliefs.  In par­tic­u­lar, the Raelians have launched a num­ber of nasty attacks against the Catholic Church over the years. 

The Raelians have also made prob­lem­atic state­ments regard­ing Jews and Judaism.  Some state­ments have stemmed from the group’s poor gov­ern­men­tal recep­tion in Israel, oth­ers from sym­pa­thy with Pales­tini­ans, while still oth­ers have risen from a desire that Jews accept Raelian teach­ings.  All three sen­ti­ments com­bined in a 2008 state­ment by the group’s spokesper­son in Israel, Leon Mel­lul, in which he claimed that Jew­ish teach­ings were “prim­i­tive ideas from the Mid­dle Ages” and “unfounded non­sense” and said that Israel’s sur­vival depended on:  1) rec­og­niz­ing Rael as the Mes­siah; 2) per­mit­ting the “Raelian Embassy” [in Israel]; and 3) “show­ing love and com­pas­sion for all human beings.”

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November 16, 2012 10

Demonstrators at Anti-Israel Rallies: “Gaza is the Real Holocaust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

Vir­u­lent anti-Israel protests were held in at least two dozen cities across the United States yes­ter­day. The demon­stra­tions were orga­nized to protest Israeli air strikes against Hamas and ter­ror­ist infra­struc­ture in Gaza in an ongo­ing effort to defend Israel’s civil­ian pop­u­la­tion against the con­tin­u­ous bar­rage of indis­crim­i­nate deadly rocket fire from Gaza which now extends to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Many of the demon­stra­tions were marked by extreme and anti-Semitic mes­sages. Signs that com­pared Israel to Nazi Ger­many and expressed sup­port for “armed resis­tance” in Gaza were wide­spread. Below is a sam­pling of the demonstrations:

New York: Approx­i­mately 1,000 indi­vid­u­als attended a rally to “Protest Israeli crimes in Gaza” out­side the Israeli Con­sulate. Signs held at the demon­stra­tion read, “Pales­tini­ans are free­dom fight­ers;”  “Stop Israeli geno­cide in Gaza;” “Resistance is jus­ti­fied when peo­ple are occu­pied;” “Long live the Intifada;” “With our soul and our blood we will redeem you, Pales­tine;” and “Gaza is Today’s War­saw Ghetto.”

One after the other, dif­fer­ent speak­ers took turns con­demn­ing Israel using Holo­caust analo­gies, prais­ing “armed resis­tance,” and call­ing for “Pales­tine to be free, from the [Jor­dan] River to the [Mediter­ranean] Sea.” One speaker said, “Speak­ing of resis­tance, do you guys think resis­tance equals ter­ror­ism?” The crowd shouted, “No!!!” Another speaker claimed that “Gaza is the War­saw Ghetto of today. Sixty years ago when the Jew­ish peo­ple in the War­saw Ghetto fought back against the Nazi war machine, today it is the peo­ple of Gaza and Pales­tine who are fight­ing for free­dom against a war machine that is no bet­ter than that of the Nazis.”

The speak­ers at the rally rep­re­sented a num­ber of groups, includ­ing Al-Awda, the Arab Mus­lim Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion, New York Uni­ver­sity and Hunter College’s chap­ters of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine, Mus­lim Amer­i­can Society, ANSWER, and more (see below for videos of the event).

Los Ange­les: Sev­eral dozen stu­dents protested on UCLA’s cam­pus hold­ing signs that read, “From the River to the sea Pales­tine will be free,” “This Israeli Jew­ish Grand­daugh­ter of a Holo­caust Sur­vivor is against the Mas­sacre of Gaza,” “Blow­ing up chil­dren ≠ self –defense” and “Respect Exis­tence or Expect Resis­tance.” Another sign, which read “93% effec­tive mis­sile defense Iron Dome paid for by $250 M in US tax $,” seemed to be upset with the Israeli defense sys­tem that pre­vents rock­ets from land­ing on Israeli civil­ians. Stu­dents also chanted, “Free, Free Pales­tine; Long live the intifada” and “Israel is a ter­ror­ist state.”

Chicago: Sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers held signs that read “Gaza is the Real Holo­caust,” “Con­demn Gaza Geno­cide,”  “Divest from Israel’s Crimes,” and “Stop Israel’s Slaugh­ter in Gaza.” One per­son held a sign that showed the Star of David = Swastika. The rally was held in Pru­den­tial Plaza out­side Pres­i­dent Obama’s cam­paign head­quar­ters. It was spon­sored by sev­eral Chicago-based orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Chicago Move­ment for Pales­tin­ian Rights, the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Group and Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine – Chicago. It was also endorsed by nearly 20 other orga­ni­za­tions, including 8 area chap­ters of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine and the Chicago chap­ter of Jew­ish Voice for Peace.

Boston: Pro­test­ers chanted “Resis­tance is Jus­ti­fied When Peo­ple are Occu­pied” and “Pales­tine will be free, from the river to the sea.” “Long live Intifada, Intifada, Intifada!” A large ban­ner that read “Jews for Intifada” was held by sev­eral activists at the front of the crowd as they marched towards the Israeli Con­sulate in down­town Boston. The rally was spon­sored by Jew­ish Voice for Peace, CODEPINK, the United National Anti­war Coali­tion, and Occupy-Boston. A sign that read, “Un-Occupy Pales­tine” was also on display.

Videos from the anti-Israel demon­stra­tion in New York City:


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