The presence of two swastikas at a local store has one man upset enough to begin a campaign for their removal.
Storeowner and pharmacist Dipak Rao of Spring Valley Drug says two small, red swastikas above the entrance of his shop at 180 E. Central Ave., Spring Valley have a benign meaning in Hinduism and their presence should not be interpreted offensively by locals. Rao says the symbols, associated in India with good luck for new endeavors, have been above his entrance without incident since his store opened in 1989.
Rocklander Douglas Cantor, however, does not accept this explanation, and says Rao should be sensitive to the historic meaning of the symbol within Western civilization, specifically its association with Nazi Germany and the World War II holocaust that claimed the lives of 12 million persons, including 6 million Jews.
Cantor contacted Spring Valley PD about the swastika but they determined its presence was not a provocation due to the benign interpretation offered by Rao. “I have many Hasidic Jewish customers. They never complain,” said Rao, further stating that as an American he has the right to express his religion.
Cantor also contacted Rockland County Executive Ed Day over Facebook about the symbol and the county executive said he found the symbol offensive, suggesting the community organize to request its removal.
Not all Jewish persons agreed with Cantor’s view. Michael Koplen, a former candidate for Ramapo town supervisor and County Court justice, stated “…since the swastika existed as a symbol for thousands of years before the Nazis adopted it, it should [over time] be taken back from that legacy and restored to its rightful status.”
Link explaining the history of the swastika, dating from antiquity to present day: HISTORY OF THE SWASTIKA