The victim of an assault by an anti-Jewish mob in Manhattan has spoken out against the plea deal that saw one of his attackers walk away with just 18 months behind bars.
Joseph Borgen, 31, was brutally beaten by a group of pro-Palestinian protesters in May 2021 as he walked to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square while wearing a yarmulke.
On Tuesday, Borgen struggled to contain his fury as he delivered a victim impact statement during the sentencing of Waseem Awawdeh, 24, who was filmed beating Borgen with crutches, calling him a ‘dirty Jew ” and spray it with pepper.
“Why is he taking a break? I really don’t understand why he has a market. I, personally, wanted to be tried, I wanted to see full justice,” Borgen told the court, according to the New York Post.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office offered Awawdeh, who had faced up to seven years in prison, the 18-month sentence in exchange for his guilty plea to attempted second-degree assault as a as hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.
Joseph Borgen (above) struggled to contain his fury as he delivered a victim impact statement during the sentencing of Waseem Awawdeh, 24, in Manhattan court on Tuesday
Awawdeh was sentenced to 18 months for his role in the mob attack on Borgen in May 2021, when the victim attended a pro-Israel rally wearing a yarmulke
The attack on Borgen came during a spike in anti-Jewish crimes during a major flare-up in violence between Hamas and Israel in May 2021.
Awawdeh said sadly “I have no problem doing it again” after his arrest, according to prosecutors, adding, “If I could do it again, I would.”
Bragg’s office said in a statement after Tuesday’s hearing, “No one should ever feel unsafe because of their religion, and we do not condone the anti-Semitic hatred displayed by the defendant in this case.”
“Following a thorough and thorough investigation, Waseem Awawdeh is now sentenced to 18 months in prison.
“The remaining three defendants are expected to stand trial for hate crimes in the coming months and face significant state prison time if convicted.”
At sentencing, Awawdeh’s attorney, Peter Frankel, vigorously defended his client and insisted he held no anti-Jewish sentiments.
“I’ve been a lifelong New Yorker, I’m a Jewish man. I’ve spent countless hours and days with [Awawdeh]” Frankel told the court, according to the Post.
“I have seen nothing in my dealings with him that indicates he is in any way anti-Semitic,” Frankel added, insisting his client made a “mistake” but “agreed to accept responsibility”.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office offered Awawdeh, who had faced up to seven years in prison, the 18-month sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.
Waseem Awawdeh pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon
“Why is he taking a break? I really don’t understand why he has a market. Me, personally, I wanted to be judged, I wanted to see full justice,” Borgen said.
During sentencing, Awawdeh’s lawyer Peter Frankel (left) vigorously defended his client and insisted he held no anti-Jewish sentiments
But in his impact statement, Borgen said he felt the 18-month sentence was too light.
“What kind of message does this send – to everyone, to all victims of hate crimes?” he said, according to the Post.
“Not just Jews, but anyone who has been victimized by a hate crime. You can say you won’t do it again, get arrested on bail, do whatever you want, and you know what? We’re going to give you a little slap on the wrist, that’s good! added Borgen.
Judge Felicia Mennin approved the plea agreement and sentence.
“The band’s behavior was despicable,” she said. “That’s not how people behave in a civilized society.”
In 2021, days after the brutal attack, Borgen spoke out in an interview with DailyMail.com, saying he thought he was going to die after a gang of pro-Palestinian protesters attacked him in Midtown. Manhattan.
Borgen, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was wearing a gray yarmulke and was heading to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square around 6:30 p.m. when a young man in a black bandana began chasing him.
“I turned around trying to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who started physically attacking me, beating me, kicking me, hitting me with crutches, hitting me with flagpoles,’ he told DailyMail.com after being released from Bellevue Hospital.
Video of the assault showed Borgen being left helpless on the ground as he was beaten by the angry mob outside 1604 Broadway.
Pro-Palestinian protesters clash with a group of Israel supporters and police in a violent clash in Times Square on May 20, 2021 in New York City
Wassem Awawdeh walked out of the 5th Precinct and into Central Booking for the attack on a Jewish man during a Palestinian/Israeli protest on 47th Street in Manhattan
Borgen is seen hospitalized on the left, and in an interview a day after the attack on the right
“After I got on the ground, I was literally in a fetal position, trying to protect my head and my face, literally trying to get out of it,” Borgen said.
“I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die.
Borgen said there were eight to 10 people who participated in the beating and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as, “You filthy Jew. We are going to f*****g kill you. Return to Israel. Hamas will kill you.’
He said the most painful part happened towards the end, when they pepper sprayed him.
“I thought I was peeing because I felt a stream on my face. They massaged or sprayed me with pepper spray for a minute straight.
Another defendant, Faisal Elezzi, pleaded guilty to attempted third degree assault as a hate crime and was sentenced to three years probation.
Three other defendants still have charges pending in the case. They are Mohammed Othman, Mohammed Said Othman and Mahmoud Musa.