WASHINGTON - A swastika was found etched into the wall of an elevator in the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken said was a painful reminder that antisemitism isn’t a relic of the past.
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“It’s still a force in the world, including close to home. And it’s abhorrent,” Blinken wrote in an email distributed to State Department employees. “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.”
Blinken noted that throughout history, antisemitism “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.”
The Secretary of State said the swastika had been removed and that the incident will be investigated, adding, “to our Jewish colleagues: please know how grateful we are for your service and how proud we are to be your colleagues.”
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and UN Gilad Erdan said the incident "once again shows that antisemitism does not distinguish between Jews in Israel and Jews in America, and harms not only Israel but the entire world." Erdan added that "we must fight together resolutely against antisemitism of any kind and bring to justice anyone who acts out of hatred for the Jewish people."
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The Biden administration has come under growing pressure from Congress and U.S. Jewish organizations to name a special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism – the highest-ranking public official in the country tasked with combating anti-Jewish prejudice. The role was elevated to an ambassadorial-level position last December, adding weight to its mission of combating antisemitism at a global level. The prospective envoy will have to be confirmed by the Senate prior to assuming the position.