Former US diplomat 'sorry' for genocidal anti-Palestine tirade at halal street food vendor

Former US diplomat 'sorry' for genocidal anti-Palestine tirade at halal street food vendor
Stuart Seldowitz, a former senior official at the US State Department, was filmed saying 'if we killed 4,000 Palestinian children, it wasn't enough' to a vendor serving halal food in New York
3 min read
22 November, 2023
The former diplomat could be heard saying in the video that the thousands of Palestinian children killed was 'not enough' [Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty]

A man who once served as a senior advisor to the Obama administration has apologised after video of him unleashing a genocidal Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian rant at a halal street food vendor went viral. 

In footage that emerged earlier this week, Stuart Seldowitz - who once served as deputy director of the US State Department's Office of Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and held numerous other positions - was filmed harassing the vendor, who is believed to be Egyptian, at his street stall in Manhattan, New York.

Seldowitz can be heard saying to the vendor: "If we killed 4,000 Palestinian children, it wasn't enough", in reference to Israel's bombardment of Gaza that has so far killed more than 14,000 people, including almost 6,000 children.

The 64-year-old also asked the vendor if he "raped his daughter like Mohammed".

The footage caused widespread outrage on social media, with users calling for Seldowitz to be held accountable for his actions.

On Tuesday, a Washington-based lobby group called Gotham Government Relations said it was cutting all ties with Seldowitz in response to the video.

"Gotham Government Relations has ended all affiliation with Stuart Seldowitz," the lobbying firm announced in a statement.

"The video of his actions is vile, racist and beneath the dignity of the standards we practice at our firm."

The statement said Seldowitz had not contributed work to their firm in "years" - but users of social networking platform 'X' pointed to a news release from the organisation, dated 29 November 2022, that announced he was part of their "expert and passionate team".

Seldowitz had served in the US State Department for five presidencies, according to the news release.

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David Schwartz, the founder and president of Gotham Government Relations, told local news site City & State that he would represent the food vendor pro bono if he wanted to take legal action against Seldowitz.

Seldowitz told City & State that he was "sorry" for the incident.

"I regret the whole thing happened and I'm sorry," he said. "But you know, in the heat of the moment, I said things that probably I shouldn't have said."

Videos of Seldowitz harassing the vendor on other occasions have also been shared to X.

Incidents of Islamophobia have shot up dramatically in North America and Europe since 7 October, when Israel launched a brutal and indiscriminate war on Gaza after a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel.