Forward Thinking

Reclaiming the Swastika, One Tattoo at a Time

By Cnaan Liphshiz

getty images

(JTA) — As the sun began to set over Copenhagen, Peter Madsen realized he would not be able to serve the dozens of people still waiting in his shop for a free swastika tattoo.

“We had to stop taking in people after the 54th client,” Madsen, artistic designer at the Meatshop tattoo parlor, said on Tuesday — the day that more than 120 similar businesses worldwide offered free tattoos of the ancient Indian symbol as part of campaign titled “Learn to Love the Swastika.”

For the occasion, the Meatshop announced that anyone who enters the shop on Tuesday would be entitled to a $180 swastika tattoo on the house, on a body part of their choosing.

The idea, Madsen said, is “to reclaim this symbol, which the Nazis abused, and restore it to its original meaning in India, where is has served for thousands of years as a sign of peace and goodness.”

In Russia, Europe and the English-speaking world, swastikas are popular with white supremacists, given the symbol’s association with Nazism. The symbol has been banned in several European countries with limitations on hate speech, though not in Denmark, where a strong liberal tradition has trumped even the bitter memories from the Nazi occupation during World War II.

Still, the Meatshop’s swastika stunt drew emotional reactions from Danish Jews. “I believe that a symbol that was once something else, but which the Nazis took hostage, cannot just be washed clean,” Finn Schwarz, president of the Jewish Congregation of Copenhagen, told the news site mx.dk. The Meatshop’s attempt to do just that was “cheap,” he added.

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Bad (Election) Year for the Jews

By Nathan Guttman

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Krysten Sinema

Jews had a bad year in terms of winning seats in Congress, falling from 39 members in both chambers in the 112th Congress to only 32 in the next one.

We pretty much predicted this outcome. But with the breakdown of the new Congress by religion, which was carried out by the Pew Forum it becomes clear that Jews fared worse than any other faith group in the 2012 elections.

“The biggest decline is among Jews,” the research states, falling from 7% of Congress before the elections to 6% in the upcoming Congress which will be sworn-in in January.

Catholics stand out as the religious groups making the greatest gains, with 161 members in the 113th Congress, compared to 156 in the 112th, a trend that may be linked to the increased clout of Latino voters.

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