A swastika was found carved on the wall of an elevator in the State Department on July 26, Axios reported.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently traveling to India and Kuwait, sent an email to department staffers denouncing the swastika as “hateful” and saying that it has since been removed and the department will investigate the matter.
“As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn’t a relic of the past,” Blinken wrote. “It’s still a force in the world, including close to home. And it’s abhorrent. It has no place at the United States, State Department or anywhere else.”
He added that “anti-Semitism often goes hand in hand with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and other hatreds. None of these ideologies should have a home in our workplace or our nation.
“To our Jewish colleagues: please know how grateful we are for your service and how proud we are to be your colleagues.”
BREAKING: Secretary Blinken to staff on swastika incident: This reminds us antisemitism is not a relic of the past. It has no place in the U.S., at the state department or anywhere else. To our Jewish colleagues please knkw how grateful we are for your service pic.twitter.com/aOuzVCxaoX
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) July 27, 2021
Jewish groups denounced the swastika carving.
“Deeply upsetting to see this #antisemitic vandalism at the @StateDept,” Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “Glad @SecBlinken spoke out. With rising levels of #antisemitism around the world, we need strong statements like this but also action. @ADL continues to urge @POTUS to nominate [United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism] without delay.”
Deeply upsetting to see this #antisemitic vandalism at the @StateDept. Glad @SecBlinken spoke out. With rising levels of #antisemitism around the world, we need strong statements like this but also action. @ADL continues to urge @POTUS to nominate @USEAntiSemitism without delay. https://t.co/leswQeCKhe
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) July 27, 2021
“We were shocked to learn of the antisemitic graffiti within the State Department, and we praise Secretary Blinken’s quick condemnation and promised investigation,” American Jewish Committee U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism Holly Huffnagle similarly said in a statement to the Journal. “Antisemitism is still an abhorrent force in the world, as the Secretary rightly noted, but sadly, much of the antisemitism we face today isn’t as obvious as a Nazi swastika. The incident, which happened close to the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, serves as another reminder of the need to fill that position.”
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal that he was at the State Department on July 22 and that it was like “a ghost town” due to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 measures allowing only 25% capacity in the building.
“It’s really outrageous and although you might say, ‘Well it’s one person,’ look [at] what they did and where they did it,” Cooper said. “That was meant for what it is: an antisemitic act which is now becoming so commonplace that it’s hard to be shocked anymore.”
StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein also said in a statement to the Journal, “As antisemitism continues to rise both globally and here in the U.S., this is a stark reminder that this infectious societal disease can arise anywhere, even in the halls of our democracy. This means that we must all be vigilant and diligent about identifying, exposing and actively opposing antisemitism, wherever it is found. We appreciate Secretary Blinken’s statement condemning this hateful act and are hopeful that the security measures in place will help in identifying the perpetrator.”
Stop Antisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez said in a statement to the Journal, “At a time when members of Congress such as [Rashida] Tlaib and [Ilhan] Omar fan the flames of antisemitism at every turn, we’re not in the least bit shocked that swastikas are showing up in DC governmental buildings.”
At a time when members of Congress such as Tlaib and Omar fan the flames of antisemitism at every turn, we’re not surprised swastikas are now showing up in DC governmental buildings. https://t.co/J1kP5Tn7Eo
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) July 27, 2021