A former Obama administration adviser, Stuart Seldowitz, 64, has been arrested in New York City after videos surfaced on social media showing him using Islamophobic language against a food cart worker. Seldowitz, a former State Department employee and national security adviser, was taken into custody on Wednesday on preliminary charges of hate crime, stalking, second-degree aggravated harassment, stalking causing fear, and stalking at employment.
The arrest follows reports filed with the NYPD regarding aggravated harassment at the intersection of 2nd Avenue and 83rd Street. The victim, a 24-year-old male, stated that Seldowitz approached him multiple times at his workplace, making anti-Islamic statements on different dates. The victim expressed feeling afraid and annoyed due to Seldowitz’s actions.
Videos shared on social media depict Seldowitz mocking Islam, taunting the food cart worker about his citizenship status, accusing him of supporting Hamas, and referencing the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian group. In the videos, Seldowitz can be heard saying, “I’m gonna put big signs here that say ‘This guy believes in Hamas,'” “You’re a terrorist, you support terrorism,” and “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what, it wasn’t enough.”
Seldowitz’s arrest comes at a time when there has been a rise in antisemitism and anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States following the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, which resulted in the loss of over 1,200 lives. FBI Director Christopher Wray has described the levels of antisemitism as “historic,” with actions targeting the Jewish community increasing during the conflict. Palestinian American groups have also expressed growing concerns over an uptick in violence.
Advocacy groups have reported a significant increase in Islamophobic incidents across the United States. In response, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has stated that the state government is intensifying efforts to combat online hate and address the rise in hateful rhetoric since the start of the conflict.