Pelosi Calls for FBI Probe into Gaza Protesters, Alleges Russian Ties

In a significant development on Sunday, Representative Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California and the former House Speaker, called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate protesters advocating for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Pelosi suggested, without providing concrete evidence, that some of the activists may have ties to Russia and its President, Vladimir V. Putin.

Pelosi’s Assertion

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi stated, “For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”

Pressed on whether she believed some demonstrators were “Russian plants,” Pelosi remarked, “Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.” Pelosi, a prominent political figure who led House Democrats for two decades, continues to wield influence among congressional Democrats despite stepping aside for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in 2019.

Russia’s Involvement

This move by Pelosi marks the first instance of a high-profile U.S. politician publicly suggesting that Russia may be supporting cease-fire protests to sow division among Democrats. The Council on American-Islamic Relations strongly condemned Pelosi’s comments, describing them as “an unsubstantiated smear” and “downright authoritarian.”

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, emphasized that Pelosi’s remarks showcase the negative impact of decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by those supporting Israeli policies. Awad urged political leaders to focus on ending the conflict in Gaza instead of baselessly accusing protesters of collaboration with Russia.

Progressive activists and voters advocating for a cease-fire in Gaza have warned President Biden that his approach to the conflict could jeopardize his re-election and Democratic support in the upcoming November elections. Various groups, including Jewish, human rights, and antiwar organizations, have led protests across the country demanding an end to Israel’s military campaign, triggered by Hamas’s attack on October 7.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators, citing the escalating death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have disrupted Democratic campaign events, including President Biden’s public appearances and a speech by Pelosi in Seattle last week. In response to Pelosi’s call for an FBI investigation, a spokesperson pointed to a social media post by Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and professor at Columbia University, who suggested that “Putin benefits from continued war in Gaza and expanded chaos in the Middle East.”

Pelosi

The spokesperson emphasized Pelosi’s commitment to focus on alleviating the suffering in Gaza and demanding the release of all hostages. The statement also defended Pelosi’s support for Americans’ right to peaceful protest while acknowledging the awareness of foreign adversaries meddling in U.S. politics to sow division and impact elections.

It’s noteworthy that Russia has expressed support for a cease-fire in Gaza, and President Putin has utilized the conflict to criticize the United States’ role in the Middle East. Russia’s interference in past U.S. presidential elections has been a point of contention and concern.

Democratic party divisions

Within the Democratic party, there has been deep-seated division over the policy toward Israel since Hamas’s attack on October 7, resulting in the death of about 1,200 people and the abduction of another 240. Israel’s military response, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, has led to the death of more than 26,000 people.

A recent New York Times/Siena College poll indicated widespread disapproval of President Biden’s handling of the conflict. Nearly as many Americans expressed a desire for Israel’s military campaign to stop as those who believed it should continue. This split presents a significant challenge for President Biden as he seeks re-election and endeavors to maintain unity within the Democratic coalition that brought him to the White House in 2020.

The international community has widely advocated for a cease-fire, with 153 nations in the United Nations General Assembly voting in favor of an immediate cessation of hostilities in December. Furthermore, the International Court of Justice directed Israel on Friday to take action to prevent genocide in Gaza, adding another layer of urgency to the ongoing conflict.

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