Stuart Seldowitz, a former deputy director of the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, has been apprehended following an incident captured on video where he made Islamophobic comments towards a New York City halal food vendor..
The 64-year-old now faces charges of aggravated harassment, hate crime stalking, stalking causing fear, and stalking at a place of employment, as stated by the New York Police Department.
According to police reports, a 24-year-old male victim detailed multiple encounters at his workplace where Seldowitz made anti-Islamic statements, causing the victim both fear and annoyance. The incident gained widespread attention when videos surfaced on social media depicting heated exchanges between Seldowitz and an Egyptian vendor at a Manhattan halal cart.
Seldowitz can be heard in the videos making inflammatory remarks about the death toll in Gaza and hurling slurs against Prophet Muhammad. He also threatened to use his government connections to involve Egypt’s secret police against the vendor, claiming they would harm the vendor’s parents.
Despite the video evidence, Seldowitz maintained that the incident was not accurately represented, suggesting that he became upset when the vendor expressed sympathy for the Palestinian group Hamas. However, no evidence in the videos supports the claim that the vendor mentioned Hamas.
In response to the incident, New Yorkers rallied in support of the vendor, forming lines to patronize the halal cart. The Street Vendor Project, an organization working with New York’s numerous food carts, described the scene as a moving display of unity against anti-Muslim hate.
The incident occurred against the backdrop of escalating tensions related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The war has led to a surge in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the United States, sparking frequent street protests expressing both support for Israel and solidarity with Palestine.
When questioned about the incident, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasized the unequivocal opposition of the United States to racist or discriminatory language in any form. The arrest of Stuart Seldowitz serves as a notable event in addressing such incidents and promoting tolerance within society.