watch out for the Nazi pokeymons
   
                        Friday December 3 6:12 AM ET
                                      
                    Pokemon Card Halted Amid Controversy
                                      
                 By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press Writer 
                                      
       CORTLANDT, N.Y. (AP) - Eleven-year-old Stephen Langsam prefers
    Japanese-language Pokemon cards to the English version. But when he
    plunked down $6 for a pack last month, he was upset to find one that
                  included what he thought was a swastika.
                                      
    The red mark alongside the Pokemon characters Golbat and Ditto was a
    ``manji,'' a mirror image of the Nazi swastika. In Japan, where the
   symbol predates the Nazis by centuries, it means good fortune and can
                     also represent a Buddhist temple.
                                      
    But to Stephen, his friend Marc Specht and their Jewish families, it
    was a Nazi swastika, the spidery symbol of hate and the Holocaust -
                 and it didn't belong in a children's game.
                                      
    ``We thought there had to be something we could do because it can be
         terrible for children,'' said Marc's mother, Myla Specht.
                                      
   Nintendo of America, which makes Pokemon products, announced Thursday
                    that the card will be discontinued.
                                      
    ``What is appropriate for one culture may not be for another,'' the
                        company said in a statement.
                                      
     The Japanese-language cards were not meant for sale in the United
   States. A licensed domestic vendor that manufactures Pokemon cards in
     English plans to issue the same card - without the swastika - late
                                 next year.
                                      
       Many were imported without company approval to feed demand by
                                collectors.
                                      
    While the card's Japanese creators continue to believe the ``manji''
    carries a positive message, ``they also understand that there is the
      potential for others to misunderstand the symbol,'' the Nintendo
                              statement said.
                                      
   Kenneth Jacobson, a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League, said the
    decision ``showed sensitivity to the feelings of Jews and others to
              whom the swastika is a very offensive symbol.''
                                      
   ``We recognize there was no intention to be offensive, but goods flow
    too easily from one place to another in the world,'' he said. ``The
     notion of isolating it in Asia would just create more problems.''
                                      
    Steve Weisman, who was upset when a 10-year-old boy found the symbol
    in a Pokemon pack sold at the Collectible Outlet in Oceanside, said
      Nintendo should do more - ``maybe a contribution to a Holocaust
                             group,'' he said.
                                      
    ``Whether it was done on purpose or not, it created ill feelings,''
   Weisman said. ``The whole premise of the game is kids having fun. This
                   reminded people of 6 million deaths.''
                                      
   But Larry Rosensweig, a Jew who is director of the Morikami Museum and
   Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., said opposition to the symbol
                       was ``misplaced indignation.''
                                      
    ``This has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years and has
    nothing whatsoever to do with the Nazis or anti-Semitism,'' he said.
   ``There are plenty of things out there that people should be offended
   about. Put your indignation into some more productive and appropriate
                                  fight.''