(JTA) — 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.