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April 17, 2023 4:30 pm

Father of Antisemitic Hate Crime Victim Pleads for Justice at New York City Council Hearing


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Joseph Borgen testifying at the New York City Council. Photo: Twitter

The father of a Jewish man who was brutally assaulted and pepper sprayed in a 2021 antisemitic hate crime has criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Thursday for lightly punishing his son’s assailants.

Joseph Borgen was returning home from a pro-Israel event in New York City in 2021 when five men shouting antisemitic slurs, including 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, attacked him for being Jewish. Awawdeh repeatedly hit Borgen, who was wearing a kippah, with a metal crutch.

Despite the severity of the incident, in January, DA Bragg offered Awawdeh, who reportedly said he would commit a similar act if given the chance, just six months in jail and five years probation. He is currently free on $10,000 bail.

“They have film of this in black and white from people in the street and Times Square, it’s an open and shut case, and DA Bragg is just schlepping the case along with no solution,” the elder Borgen said during a judiciary committee hearing at the New York City Council. “One fellow, Waseem Awawdeh, was hitting my son with crutches and was offered a sweetheart deal, didn’t take it, yet he was let out on probation.”

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Borgen added that Awadeh was allegedly involved in a road rage incident that violated the conditions of his bail.

“Bragg brought him again, nothing, just ‘go out and behave yourself,’ this will just embolden him and he doesn’t care,” Borgen continued. He also criticized Democratic lawmakers US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has arrested four other assailants — Mahmoud Musa, Faisal Elezzi, Mohammed Said Othman, and a 14-year-old — connected to the Joey Borgen assault.

New York and New Jersey combined for nearly 1,000 antisemitic incidents in 2022, seeing the first and third most in all 50 states, according to an annual audit by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). New York led the nation with 580 incidents, a 34 percent change from 2019, when there were 430. Other data complied by Americans Against Antisemitism, a US based group founded in 2019, shows that Hasidic and Orthodox Jews in New York City are overwhelmingly represented in the area’s hate crime statistics, being targeted in 94 percent of all reported.

The violence has prompted eight major nonprofits from New York and New Jersey to create a supra-regional group for sharing and receiving information about threats to Jewish communities in the area.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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