A swastika symbol was found on Monday etched into the wall of an elevator in the U.S. State Department as the country has seen a worrying surge in anti-Semitism in recent months, according to local media.
Quoting a person familiar with the matter, U.S. news website Axios on Tuesday first reported the Nazi symbol was seen near the office of the State Department's special envoy monitoring and combating anti-Semitism.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who was visiting India, tweeted in response: "The hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated. As this painfully reminds us, anti-Semitism isn't a relic of the past."
"We also know from our own history and from the histories of others 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," said Blinken, a secular Jew whose stepfather survived Nazi death camps.
Sarcastically, replying to Blinken's posts, Jason Kishineff, who had run for the U.S. House to represent California's 5th Congressional District last year, tweeted: "Here at the State Dept we only authorize violence and destruction if it is cold and emotionless, in the true tradition of sociopaths as put forth by Pompeo, Tillerson, Clinton ..."
"The defacement raises troubling questions about security inside the nation's foreign policy nerve center, and the potential for anti-Semitism within an outward-facing element of the United States government," Axios warned in the report.
Both the interior and exterior of the State Department in Washington are watched over by security guards and cameras, while employees and visitors to the department must pass through security checkpoints and sign in during each visit. Additionally, there are fewer employees on-premises than usual, as many staffers are still working from home on account of COVID-19.
The security measures "should make it easy to identify the culprit, though that has not happened yet," Russian television network RT observed.
The incident has cast doubt upon the moralities and values of some officials in the department.
State Department personnel were discussing the incident on Tuesday, and some expressed concern that people with anti-Semitic beliefs may be in the ranks of diplomats who work to combat hate around the world, BuzzFeed News quoted a person familiar with the story as saying.
In a statement, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Gilad Erdan said the vandalism "once again shows that anti-Semitism does not distinguish between Jews in Israel and Jews in America."
This is the latest in a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and beyond. Following the conflict between Israel and Hamas in May, there has been a rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States.
In late May, five Jewish groups penned a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, urging him to use his platform to condemn anti-Semitism and take actions to combat racist hate in the country.