Stuart Seldowitz, the former advisor to Barack Obama who was recently caught on tape spewing anti-Islamic rhetoric to an Upper East Side halal vendor, was arrested on hate crime charges and has since been granted supervised release.
Multiple videos shared on X, formerly Twitter, show the 64-year-old harassing the vendor on East 83rd Street and Second Avenue, saying a number of hateful things including, “If we killed four-thousand Palestinian kids, you know what? It wasn’t enough.”
The interactions reportedly took place over a span of two weeks, landing him misdemeanor charges of aggravated harassment, hate crime and stalking. It isn’t clear how many incidents there were, but the various clips show the former White House advisor wearing different outfits at different times of day.
The arrest took place on Wednesday and Seldowitz was released the following day under the condition that he cannot have any contact with the vendor.
Seldowitz claimed the vendor expressed support for Hamas and instigated the arguments.
“This whole thing started when I innocently asked him if he was Egyptian and he said yes,” Seldowitz said in an interview. “I said ‘this must be a tough time to be an Egyptian in New York’ and he said ‘why’s that?’ I said ‘well because of all the stuff that’s going on in Gaza and in Israel,’ and he said ‘no it doesn’t cause me any problem because I fully support what Hamas did. I think what they did was fine. It’s not an issue for me, and it doesn’t cause me any problem.’ And I said, ‘You mean you’re okay with the raping of women, the killing of children, the taking of hostages and the killing of 1200 people in Israel?’ And he said ‘yes, it was all for Palestine.'”
In another phone interview with ABC News, he acknowledged that “he overreacted and regrets what he said, but that there were no threats or intimidation,” writes ABC7NY.
Following the release of the videos – one of which has been viewed 44 million times on X – nearby residents rallied in support of the vendor, 24-year-old Mohamed Hussein.
“These men are our friends. They look out for me, I look out for them, especially in the heightened times in the past few months,” Wyznitzer told Gothamist. “I’m a very proud Jewish woman. They are wonderful Egyptian men … hate has no place on our street corners.”