WASHINGTON – The State Department will investigate the appearance of a swastika etched into the wall of an elevator at the agency, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
“This hateful graffiti has been removed, and this incident will be investigated,” Jalina Porter, the State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, told reporters during a briefing Tuesday. She said it was discovered in an elevator late Monday.
The news was first reported by Axios, which said the antisemitic symbol was etched into an elevator wall near the office of State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.
Porter did not answer a question about whether State Department officials believe the incident is related to the mission of that office.
President Joe Biden tweeted late on Tuesday in response to the news , “Let me be clear: Anti-Semitism has no place in the State Department, in my Administration, or anywhere in the world. It’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor and stand up to bigotry wherever we find it.”
Antony Blinken sent a message to agency employees deploring the incident as “abhorrent,” according to a copy of the note obtained by USA TODAY.
“As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn’t a relic of the past,” Blinken’s note says. “It’s still a force in the world, including close to home. And it’s abhorrent. It has no place in the United States, at the State Department, or anywhere else. And we must be relentless in standing up and rejecting it.”
Antisemitism “often goes hand in hand with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other hatreds,” Blinken added. “None of these ideologies should have a home in our workplace or our nation.”
Blinken has Jewish roots and his stepfather was a Holocaust survivor who spent time as a young boy in the Nazi death camps.
President Joe Biden is under pressure from lawmakers to name an envoy to combat antisemitism amid a global wave of attacks on synagogues, schools and other Jewish sites. The State Department’s envoy office is currently led by Kara McDonald, the deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor.