Sickening videos showing Stuart Seldowitz, 64, a veteran of multiple US administrations and, until recently, a high-level government lobbyist, harassing and threatening food cart workers in New York City this month have sparked global outrage and revealed the true face of US foreign policy.
According to interviews with food cart workers published in reports by DocumentedNY and Vice, Seldowitz began harassing workers at the Q Halal Cart on November 7. Prior to working as a lobbyist for Gotham Government Relations, Seldowitz advanced US foreign policy interests under both Democratic and Republican administrations for over two decades.
In the videos, Seldowitz is seen and heard taunting the workers over their perceived Muslim faith while accusing them of being terrorists. In an interview with Vice, Islam (Sam) Moustafa, an Egyptian immigrant manager of the cart, and Mohamed Hussein, an employee, said they never had any issues with customers until Seldowitz began harassing them. A third-shift co-worker confirmed that he had been harassed as well while working.
“He started telling [Hussein], ‘you support Hamas, you’re a terrorist. You guys love to kill Jewish people,’” Moustafa told Vice.
In the videos the workers are seen repeatedly trying to deescalate the situation as Seldowitz insults them. Multiple times the workers try to placate Seldowitz by asking him if he would like something to eat, seeking to avoid being provoked by his hateful incitement.
“I am working now. Can you go please?” Hussein says in one of the videos, only for Seldowitz to reply, “But you are a terrorist, you support terrorists.”
Hussein replies, correctly, “You kill children, not me.”
Seldowitz replies, “You know what? If we (referring to the US and Israeli government) killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough.”
Clearly angered by Hussein’s comment, in another video Seldowitz threatens to deport him to Egypt, a major non-NATO US ally, to be tortured by the Mukhabarat, the Egyptian equivalent of the CIA.
“Smile for me,” Seldowitz says with a sick grin and chuckle. “You don’t speak English? That just shows how ignorant you are. ... That’s why you are selling food in a food cart, because you are ignorant.”
“You should learn English,” Seldowitz adds. “It will help you when they deport you back to Egypt and the Mukhabarat wants to interview you…”
“Are you here legally?” Seldowitz menacingly asks Hussein in another one of the videos. “I’m going to send this picture to my friends in immigration and to the Egyptians, the Mukhabarat wants your picture.”
“Mukhabarat in Egypt will get your parents,” Seldowitz adds. “Does your father like his finger nails? They will take them out one by one.”
Seldowitz knows whereof he speaks. According to a now-deleted biography from his former employer, Gotham Government Relations, a well connected New York-based lobbying firm, Seldowitz was the firm’s “foreign affairs chair” until this week.
In its profile of him, Gotham touted Seldowitz’s “expert” résumé, which includes “former Director of the National Security Council under President Obama and former diplomat for the US State Department ... during five presidencies.”
From 1999 to 2003, Seldowitz was the deputy director of the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs under former president and war criminal George W. Bush. That is, a racist bigot was in charge of “mediating” the “two-state solution,” underscoring how hollow and cynical these maneuvers by US imperialism and its client state Israel were, and continue to be.
After Bush, from 2009 to 2011 Seldowitz was acting director for the National Security Council South Asia Directorate under former President Barack “deporter-in-chief” Obama.
During his time at the State Department, Seldowitz was a three-time recipient of the Department’s “Superior Honor Award.” The award is given to employees who, among other reasons, have made “contributions which had a substantial impact on the accomplishment of the agency’s missions, goals, or objectives,” or whose accomplishments “substantially contributed to the advancement of US Government interests.”
In other words, Seldowitz’s rants are not just the ravings of a fascistic lunatic, but a blunt articulation of US government policy.
While Seldowitz’s politics earned him accolades at the State Department and well-paying jobs with mercenary lobbying firms, his attacks against the food cart workers provoked anger among nearby bystanders. In one video, a worker is seen telling Seldowitz to stop. Speaking to Vice, Moustafa said a customer called the police during one of Seldowitz’s attacks, but the police never showed up.
In another instance, Moustafa said the night shift worker called the cops and they did respond, only to tell him that there was nothing they could do. “This is normal,” Moustafa said the cops told him. “It happens in New York City.”
While the police refused to stop or investigate the harassment of workers for weeks, on Wednesday, after videos of Seldowitz had been posted on X/Twitter, garnering millions of views, the NYPD Hate Crimes division announced that Seldowitz was taken into police custody. No charges have been announced as of this writing.
Seeking to distance itself from Seldowitz’s genocidal rantings, his former employer, Gotham Government Relations, released a statement on November 21 saying that it had “ended all affiliation with Stuart Seldowitz,” and that the “video of his actions is vile, racist, and beneath the dignity of the standard we practice at our firm.”
In reality, Seldowitz’s politics are exactly why he was hired by the firm, which is led by David Schwartz. In a fawning profile of its founder, Gotham notes that Schwartz “lobbies for a wide variety of large corporations” and has “provided vigorous representation of ... Hedge Funds, Insurance Companies, oil and gas companies ... beer industry, numerous companies related to the pandemic, healthcare, foreign countries...”
It continues, “He is also a prolific political fund raiser, having raised millions of dollars nationally for candidates at every end of the spectrum,” including former President Donald Trump.
Another employee of Schwartz’s at Gotham is former New York Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman. While in Congress, Ackerman was a committed Zionist and a longtime agent of Israel and AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). After a brief flirtation with rival Zionist lobby J Street in 2010, Ackerman broke with the group when it did not reject without qualification a UN resolution that would have condemned the illegal expansion of Zionist settlements.
In addition to being a staunch supporter of the apartheid state of Israel, Ackerman played a leading role in the Iraq invasion. Less than a month after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, in a CSPAN interview Ackerman falsely claimed the US had intelligence that operatives with Saddam Hussein “were meeting with [Osama] Bin Laden’s operative and the dots look like they are connecting.”
As personally repugnant as Seldowitz’s rantings are, they clearly would not be out of place at a Trump rally, in Obama’s State Department or at a K-Street lobbying firm.
Seldowitz’s genocidal rants are a reflection of the politics of the US ruling class as a whole and its decaying social and economic system, which has nothing to offer humanity except war, fascism and death.