UN launches investigation of anti-Semitic incidents

A UN security guard made Nazi-like salutes to his Israeli colleague, drew swastikas in log sheet.

UN building 88 (photo credit: )
UN building 88
(photo credit: )
The United Nations has launched an investigation of anti-Semitic incidents in the UN security service, according to a letter Wednesday to all security staff. The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, follows the reprimand of a security guard for drawing swastikas on a log sheet knowing a guard from Israel would almost certainly see them. The guard also made Nazi-like salutes to his Israeli colleague. In a separate incident, a female Israeli security employee alleged that she was assaulted while working in Vienna. It was not clear whether that incident was sexually related or motivated by anti-Semitism, a UN official said. The letter from Diana Russler, the deputy to UN security chief David Veness, said the Department of Safety and Security and the Office of Human Resources Management have jointly established a panel to investigate "recent allegations of anti-Semitic incidents in the Security and Safety Service ... and establish the facts." Russler said the panel would be interviewing staff members "who may have direct knowledge of facts related to these allegations." She reminded the staff "of your obligation to cooperate fully with the investigation." When The Associated Press first reported the swastika incident last month, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the guard who drew them was issued a letter of reprimand and was asked to attend sensitivity training for the September incident. The guard was not identified, but a UN official said he was from Jamaica. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information Asked whether the issue of the swastikas and Nazi salutes was closed, Dujarric replied: "The person responsible was disciplined, and as a result, a number of staff have to undergo sensitivity training. I am not aware of any further action." The letter did not give any indication of why an investigation was being launched now. Israel's Deputy UN Ambassador Daniel Carmon said last month, when asked about the swastikas and Nazi salutes, that "those signs of hatred and terror are things of the past and they cannot happen in 2006." But he said that the act of one security guard could not be compared to the larger issue of anti-Semitism at the UN.