UPDATE: Ooltewah business pulls swastika branded knife from shelves after criticism

This image from an anonymous viewer alerted NewsChannel 9 to controversial merchandise being sold at a local business. 


UPDATE (Friday):

After we spoke with Rabbi Craig Lewis about the swastika knives Thursday, he talked with the manager of Frost Cutlery in Ooltewah, and says the knives have been removed from the store.

Rabbi Lewis made the following statement on Facebook:

"I spoke with the manager at Frost Cutlery. The knives have been removed from the store. I thanked him and promised I would share that with our community. I thank Allison Levine and Channel 9 for bringing attention to the issue. Perhaps this will make other store owners aware of the potential impact of their decisions.
"The manager also expressed that he has received threats of violence against him and his family. That is unacceptable and must stop. He invited me to come talk to him which I plan to do. If you’re going to call now, let’s thank him for listening and doing the right thing by removing the merchandise. The goal here is bigger than just dealing with offensive knives. It’s about helping people to understand the larger impact and gain an ally in the process. He is open to the conversation and deserves the opportunity. He is also a parent whose children need emotional and physical safety. So please, let cool heads prevail and let’s move on always vigilant, thoughtful, and with our eyes on the bigger picture."

We spoke with an employee of the company who confirmed that the knife has been pulled from shelves.


An Ooltewah business faces criticism for a small section of swastika-decorated pocket knives in their showroom.

Frost Cutlery in Ooltewah sells the knives, which are a product of Tiger USA and are decorated with a swastika on the handle and an inscription on the blade.

An email from an out-of-town shopper, who wished to remain anonymous, containing a picture of the knives alerted NewsChannel 9 to the controversial merchandise.

Allison Levine went to the store to see the knives for herself.

After a quick scan of the store, Allison spotted the knives and subsequently purchased one for only $7.

No one from Frost would answer why the store sells the knives on camera, but gave various explanations on the record in a back room of the store.

Manager Cameron Thomsen told NewsChannel 9 that before World War II, the swastika was a symbol of hope and peace in Asian cultures and argued the symbol was being misinterpreted by those who would associate it with the Nazi cause.

However, on the blade of the knife is a German inscription which translates to "Blood and Honor," a phrase closely associated with Hitler youth.

"What they're doing is peddling hate and, whether they mean to or not, it's an opportunity to make a better choice," Rabbi Craig Lewis told NewsChannel 9 as he fiddled with the red box containing the knife while standing in the sanctuary of the Mizvah Congregation.

Rabbi Lewis went on to say "the swastika symbolizes Hitler, and the third Reich, and their belief in genocide."

After saying the swastika was being misinterpreted, Thomsen told NewsChannel 9 the knife is a piece of historic memorabilia valued by collectors.

Rabbi Lewis responded, "If it truly has historical significance, let's put it in a museum."

Finally, Thomsen stated there was no difference between a knife with a swastika on the handle and a knife branded with a marijuana leaf, the NewsChannel 9 call letters of WTVC, or the 911 phrase "never forget."

"Do you think that's a fair comparison?" Allison Levine asked Rabbi Lewis Thursday afternoon.

"Not at all," the Rabbi responded.

The Rabbi described the feeling he and other members of the Jewish community feel when they enter an establishment flaunting a swastika as "pure dread."

"It is not just a symbol that is offensive. It is a symbol that's about murder. It's a symbol that's about the devaluing of other human beings," the Rabbi said.

Rabbi Lewis embraces a spirit of hope despite the knife.

"I think with everything, it's an opportunity to educate and I think, with everything, the more that you educate the more you can change minds," he said.

Thomsen told NewsChannel 9 that Frost would consider removing the merchandise from the shelves if there was enough public concern.

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