Stuart Seldowitz, who threatened the man with torture, worked on Barack Obama’s national security team
Former US State Department and National Security Council official Stuart Seldowitz has been fired from his lobbying job after he was caught on video threatening a Muslim street vendor with deportation and torture, and calling the Islamic prophet Mohammed “a rapist.”
In a series of videos that surfaced online on Tuesday, Seldowitz accuses the New York vendor of supporting Palestinian militant group Hamas. “You support killing little children,” Seldowitz says to the man in one exchange, to which the vendor retorts, “You kill children, not me.”
“If we killed 4,000 Palestinian children, you know what? It wasn’t enough!” Seldowitz declares.
“Another video of the disgusting creature that used to be former US National Security Advisor Stewart Seldowitz says to the Egyptian falafel vendor in New York: ‘If we kill 4,000 Palestinian children, as you know, that won’t be enough.'” pic.twitter.com/2ar2NFack6
— Abo Bashar ابو بشار (@abomoamar) November 22, 2023
“I’ll speak to my friends in immigration,” Seldowitz says in another clip, telling him that Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, also known as the Mukhabarat “wants your picture.”
“The Mukhabarat in Egypt will get your parents,” Seldowitz continues. “Does your father like his fingernails? They’ll take them out one by one.” Seldowitz refuses to leave when the vendor asks him to “go,” and proceeds to take a picture of the man with his cellphone, before cackling and asking him “Did you rape your daughter like [the prophet] Mohammed?”
This man wearing a green jacket was berating and harassing a halal cart vendor off 83rd and 2nd Ave in NYC. Does anyone know who this man is? Planning to report to the authorities. pic.twitter.com/GwklyXpsPH
— Layla (@itslaylas) November 21, 2023
Seldowitz is an outspoken advocate for Israel, and served as deputy director of the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs from 1999 to 2003. During this time, the US-brokered Camp David Accords ended in failure, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas – who viewed the summit as a trap – responded by launching the Second Intifada against Israel.
Seldowitz then served as director of the National Security Council South Asia Directorate during President Barack Obama’s first term, before leaving government for work in the private sector.
One of his employers, a lobbying firm called Gotham Government Relations, announced on Tuesday that it had severed all ties with Seldowitz. The firm’s founder, David Schwartz, said in a statement that he would offer free legal representation to the vendor, calling the former official’s words “vile” and “hateful.”
Seldowitz told the New York Times that the man had expressed support for Hamas off camera, and that this made the former diplomat “rather upset.” However, a spokesman for an advocacy group representing New York street vendors told CNN that Seldowitz had been harassing the vendor for two weeks, with Seldowitz instigating every interaction between the two.
In an additional twist to the story, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, claimed on Wednesday that Seldowitz has spent several months harassing Russian diplomatic personnel in the city, “especially women.” Seldowitz “stalked them,” Polyanskiy alleged, “shouting Russophobic insults” as “bypassers tried to stop him and bring to his senses.”