A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken seeking an update regarding investigations into reports of anti-Semitic incidents within the State Department.
Led by the co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism, 75 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent the letter to Blinken Thursday.
In the letter, the lawmakers contend that three alleged anti-Semitic incidents occurred at the State Department and its foreign posts within the last 21 months. The elected officials requested an update about the progress of the investigation into the incidents and an apparent lack of action taken to address them.
One of the incidents referenced in the letter involves U.S. Foreign Service Officer Fritz Berggren, who was accused in February 2021 of running an anti-Semitic website and calling for the creation of a Christian nation-state. The lawmakers maintained that more than 70 State Department employees sent Blinken a letter in July 2021, insisting that Berggren's "presence at the State Department is threatening."
"Despite these pleas from your employees, and his outrageous antisemitism and bigotry, Mr. Berggren remains employed by the State Department. This is beyond alarming," the lawmakers wrote in Thursday's letter.
In a separate incident in July 2021, a swastika was carved in the elevator of the Harry S. Truman building, the State Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Another one was discovered in the window at the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria in February.
The State Department did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment.
Blinken wrote a memo to State Department employees in response to the swastika found in the State Department building, calling it a reminder that anti-Semitism continues to exist.
"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," he stated.
While the members of Congress note in their letter that they appreciate the Biden administration's efforts to condemn anti-Semitism, the members believe "more can and must be done to protect the Jewish community, and other religious minorities, at the State Department."
According to the letter, language in the Fiscal Year 2023 House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations report requires the State Department to report on the status of investigations into anti-Semitic incidents and include recommendations regarding how the department can address issues with tolerance and nondiscrimination among its employees.
However, the letter stresses that the urgency of this issue means it requires "immediate attention" and cannot wait for the completion of an appropriations process.
"We call on you to report back to Congress on the status of your investigation into these incidents, and on the general existence of antisemitism within the State Department," the lawmakers wrote. "We also call on you to report on what your office plans to do to improve tolerance and non-discrimination, including working with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to institute targeted training and promote better understanding."
Identifying State Department employees as "our representatives to the world," the document states, "We must ensure that hate, in all forms, is not present within the Department."
The lawmakers conclude their letter by pledging to work with the State Department to ensure the protection, support and inclusion of Jewish American employees working for the government.
According to a 2021 report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading Jewish civil rights organization, violence against Jews reached record levels in the U.S. A total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism were reported, the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com.