Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi has sparked controversy by suggesting potential Russian involvement in pro-Palestinian protests demanding a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former House speaker called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the protesters. Although she did not resent evidence, she claimed that some activists may have financial ties to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin, The New York Times reported.
“For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message,” Pelosi, who was first elected speaker in 2007 and again in 2019 before stepping aside for Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, said during the interview. “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.”
When asked on whether she believed some of the demonstrators were “Russian plants,” Pelosi said: “Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the F.B.I. to investigate that.”
Pelosi’s comments have drawn sharp criticism from various quarters, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which condemned her remarks as “an unsubstantiated smear” and “downright authoritarian.” CAIR’s national executive director, Nihad Awad, characterized Pelosi’s statements as part of a broader pattern of dehumanizing Palestinians.
“Her comments once again show the negative impact of decades of dehumanization of the Palestinian people by those supporting Israeli apartheid,” Nihad Awad said in a statement. “Instead of baselessly smearing those Americans as Russian collaborators, former House Speaker Pelosi and other political leaders should respect the will of the American people by calling for an end to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the people of Gaza.”
Progressive activists and voters advocating for a cease-fire in Gaza have warned President Joe Biden that his approach to the conflict could impact his re-election prospects and Democratic support. Protests by various groups, including Jewish, human rights, and antiwar organizations, have intensified nationwide, with demonstrators disrupting Democratic campaign events, including those attended by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, CNN reported.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas, which erupted following Hamas’s attack in October 2023, has resulted in a significant loss of life, with Israel’s military response drawing widespread condemnation.
The FBI has yet to comment on Pelosi’s call for an investigation.
Photo: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)