The U.S. State Department began investigating who was behind the etching of a swastika on a wood panel in one of the department’s elevators on Monday.

According to Axios, which first reported the incident, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a trip to India and Kuwait, sent an email to staff at the department on Tuesday saying that the swastika was removed and an investigation had commenced.

“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,” wrote Blinken. “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.”

The elevator is near the office of the yet-to-be-nominated ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, which the administration recently promised Jewish groups will happen within weeks.

“To our Jewish colleagues: please know how grateful we are for your service and how proud we are to be your colleagues,” continued Blinken.

The State Department is accessible only by employees and contractors with security clearances; it is protected by security guards and cameras.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan reacted to the discovery in a statement on Tuesday.

“The swastika etched in the State Department is a serious incident of anti-Semitic vandalism, which once again shows that anti-Semitism does not distinguish between Jews in Israel and Jews in America, and harms not only Israel but the entire world,” he said in the statement. “We must fight together resolutely against anti-Semitism of any kind and bring to justice anyone who acts out of hatred for the Jewish [people].”

Jewish politicians and organizations responded by pointing out that these types of incidents are why the administration must name an anti-Semitism envoy immediately.

“This hateful display of anti-Semitism, reportedly nearby our own federal government’s office to fight such things, is extremely disturbing, repugnant and simply un-American,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is critical that a U.S. ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat anti-Semitism be immediately named.”


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