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Officials Opened An Investigation After A Swastika Was Found Etched Into A State Department Elevator

“​As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn't a relic of the past. It's still a force in the world, including close to home,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a departmentwide email Tuesday.

Posted on July 27, 2021, at 3:08 p.m. ET

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The State Department has launched an internal investigation after a swastika was found Monday etched into the wall of an elevator near the office of its special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, two people familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent an email, seen by BuzzFeed News, to all State Department employees on Tuesday addressing the discovery with the subject line "Hate Has No Place Here."

“Late yesterday, I learned that a swastika was found carved in an elevator at the Harry S Truman building. The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated,” wrote Blinken, who is currently on a trip to India and Kuwait. “​As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn't a relic of the past. 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.”

A picture of the swastika scratched into the wooden panel of the elevator door was first obtained and reported by Axios on Tuesday.

The State Department declined to comment.

The incident raises concerns about security in the government building as well as questions about antisemitism within the ranks of the United States' top diplomatic body.

Both the interior and exterior of the State Department, located in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, DC, are watched over by security guards and cameras. And employees and visitors to the department must pass through security checkpoints and sign in during each visit.

Most department employees have been working from home during the pandemic, but many started returning to the headquarters and other offices in recent months.

A person familiar with the incident told BuzzFeed News that State Department personnel were discussing it over text messages and chat Tuesday, and that some expressed concern that people with antisemitic beliefs may be in the ranks of diplomats who work to combat hate around the world.

Here’s the full text of the email sent by Blinken to State Department employees:

Dear team:

Late yesterday, I learned that a swastika was found carved in an elevator at the Harry S Truman building. The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated. And I want to take the opportunity to speak with you.

​As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn't a relic of the past. 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.

We also know from our own history and from the histories of other nations 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.

And that goes for our entire diverse and dedicated team in Washington and around the world. I know I can speak for the Deputy Secretaries and senior leaders across the Department when I say that it's an honor to serve alongside you on behalf of the American people.

Yours,

Antony J. Blinken

Secretary of State

United States of America

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.