A former Obama State Department official was captured in several viral videos relentlessly bullying a New York City food cart vendor with bigoted insults, wishing for the deaths of more Palestinian children, and ridiculing his victim's means of earning a living.
The videos, shot the perspective of a vendor, capture Stuart Seldowitz, former deputy director of State Department Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, according to the New York Post. He was also acting director of the National Security Council South Asia Directorate during the Obama administration.
The footage was uploaded by a Twitter user whose screen name is Layla. who asked the Twitterverse, "Does anyone know who this man is? Planning to report to the authorities."
After being named on Twitter, Seldowitz admitted to the Daily Beast that it was indeed him on video.
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
Here's a sampling of his insults and smears:
- "Did you rape your daughter like Mohammed did?"
- "You know what? If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough!"
- "You're a terrorist."
- "The holy Koran...some people use as a toilet. What do you think of that -- people who use the Koran as a toilet? Does it bother you?"
- "You don't speak English? That's too bad. That's why you're selling food in a food cart. Because you're ignorant."
- "You should learn English. It will help you when they deport you back to Egypt and the Mukhabarat (intelligence service) want to interview you."
- After pressing an Israel-flag button against the cart's plexiglass: "It's not my fault that you pray to a criminal."
- "Mohammed was a child molester."
this man is continuing to berate and harass the halal cart vendor. He ends the video with “if we killed 4,000 palestinian kids? It wasn’t enough”. pic.twitter.com/yhu4HSvIEZ— Layla (@itslaylas) November 21, 2023
In this video, Seldowitz's harassment ends after a construction worker intervenes and tells the former government official to move on.
his harassment of the Halal Cart vendor at 83rd and 2nd ave has been ongoing for two weeks.— Layla (@itslaylas) November 21, 2023
NYPD has been called multiple times, local precinct stated that “there is nothing they can do because it is free speech”. pic.twitter.com/6LYL40TTFK
“I regret the whole thing happened and I'm sorry,” Seldowitz told City & State New York. “But you know, in the heat of the moment, I said things that probably I shouldn't have said."
Contrary to his "heat of the moment" characterization, this wasn't an isolated incident. According to the Twitter user who posted the videos, Seldowitz had been harassing the vendor over about two weeks.
Seldowitz also claimed the vendor, who have not been fully identified, supports Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group that killed more than 1,000 Israeli civilians and soldiers in an Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel. "He said, ‘well, I approve of Hamas’ or ‘I like Hamas’ or something like that.”
In the videos, which all start with Seldowitz in attack mode, the vendor refuses to engage with his tormentor. Instead he repeatedly and calmly asks Seldowitz to leave. At times, he claims doesn't speak English, in a seeming effort to make Seldowitz conclude his verbal onslaught is pointless. In his most laughable statement, Seldowitz told City & State. "I don't think I'm an Islamophobic guy."
In a photo posted Jan. 19 to a Stuart Seldowitz Facebook account, Seldowitz is seen wearing a lanyard identifying him as a member of the Israeli American Council's Rimon Club -- which requires an annual contribution of $5,000 or more. The date coincides with the IAC's national summit in Austin.
According to its website:
"The mission of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens the Israeli and Jewish identity of our next generation, the American Jewish community, and the bond between the peoples of the United States and the State of Israel."
In the wake of the social media uproar, New York-based lobbying firm Gotham Government Relations raced to distance itself from their associate, posting that "Gotham Government Relations has ended all affiliation with Stuart Seldowitz...The video of his actions is vile, racist and beneath the dignity of the standards we practice at our firm."
Gotham said Seldowitz wasn't an employee, only an associate, and that Seldowitz "hasn't contributed to our work in years." However, in a press release from November 2022, the firm said Seldowitz was part of its "expert and passionate team of new and recurring members." Touting his career in the the State Department, Gotham said he was the firm's "foreign affairs chair." As ZeroHedge writes this, Seldowitz still appears on a Gotham web page listing its team members. However, when you click his face, a "404 page not found" message appears.
The firm's president, David Schwartz, reinforced his firm's condemnation with an offer. "I’ll represent the food vendor pro bono if he wants to bring a lawsuit against Stuart Seldowitz,” he told City & State. “I’m absolutely outraged by this video.”
This is nowhere near what they deserve, but the food cart is Adam Halal Food Cart on 83rd & 2nd, just stopped by and got Bahaa’s Zelle QR code. This is Sam & Bahaa, they said drop by to order/say hi, but they’re delivering too on Grubhub/Doordash! https://t.co/fNUybcwlPJ pic.twitter.com/LIdFftzt5H— jdub (@415_gemini) November 22, 2023