A US Foreign Service officer is still employed at the US State Department six months after his-anti-Semitic blog posts were discovered and over a month after 70 Department staff members sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding his dismissal, Foreign Policy reported.
In a post on his website dated October 4, 2020, Fritz Berggren wrote: “Jesus came to save the whole world from the Jews — the founders of the original Anti-Christ religion, they who are the seed of the Serpent, that brood of vipers.”
“Not only is his propagation of antisemitic ideas highly disturbing and offensive to Jewish and non-Jewish employees alike, but as Jewish employees, we feel his presence at the Department is threatening,” the letter to Blinken stated.
The letter continued that Berggren’s continued presence with the department with “seemingly no consequences” has “undoubtedly contributed to the atmosphere in which someone would dare to do such a thing.”
“The Department should not wait for Berggren to target Jewish employees in the workplace, potentially with violence, before removing him,” they wrote, adding that Blinken should remove Berggren’s security clearance.
“The security clearance process is meant to assess an employee’s suitability for continued employment with the Department. There is no universe in which Berggren should qualify as suitable.”
“While we understand that you may not be able to share with us particular personnel actions that may have already been taken with regard to Berggren, we believe the only appropriate personnel action is his separation from the Department. No one who so openly and unabashedly promotes these ideas should have a home here, and we believe the Department’s own regulations give ample opportunity to make a case that would result in Berggren’s separation.”
One senior State Department official told Foreign Policy that the situation is “really quite appalling and shocking. They say there are First Amendment issues, but at some point, that can’t be the right answer,” he said, in light of the fact that Berggren has not faced any professional consequences for his website.
The letter was sent to Blinken only two days after the discovery of a swastika etched onto the wall of an elevator in the US State Department. The elevator is located in an area that is heavily monitored and has security cameras at the entrances, raising questions on how the incident occurred without being detected.
“While there is no evidence that Berggren is behind the swastika carved into the Department elevator, his continued employment with seemingly no consequences sends a message of impunity that has undoubtedly contributed to the atmosphere in which someone would dare to do such a thing,” the letter states.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)