Pro-Palestinian activists face jail after beating up Jewish man in violent antisemitic attack

Joseph Borgen was punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and beaten with crutches


CEDARHURST, NEW YORK - MAY 27: Joseph Borgen, a recent victim of a hate crime, speaks during a rally denouncing anti-Semitic violence on May 27, 2021 in Cedarhurst, New York. A rally was held by various organizations and local Jewish community groups to support Borgen after a rise of violent anti-Semitic attacks in New York and across the U.S. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Three pro-Palestinian activists have pleaded guilty to beating up a Jewish man in a violent antisemitic attack in New York.

Joseph Borgen was attacked by the men in May 2021 as he made his way to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square while wearing a kippah. 

The attackers were caught on video, which went viral, punching and kicking the man in Midtown, New York. 

During the attack, the group shouted antisemitic slurs at the 31-year-old including “You filthy Jew”, “We're going to f*****g kill you”, “Go back to Israel” and “Hamas is going to kill you.” Borgen was also pepper sprayed. 

The 31-year-old was left with a concussion, wrist injury, black eye and bruises all over his body after the attack.

Mahmoud Musa and Mohammed Othman pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault as a hate crime and a third man, Mohammed Said Othman, pleaded guilty to attempted gang assault.

Musa and Othman face between three and a half and 15 years in prison when they are sentenced on October 25 after no plea deal was offered. Prosecutors promised Said Othman a three-year prison sentence in a separate deal.

A fourth man, Faisal Elezzi, had earlier pleaded guilty to attempted assault in the third degree as a hate crime, and was sentenced to three years’ probation. Another man, Waseem Awawdeh, was filmed beating Borgen with crutches. He was jailed in June for 18 months after a plea deal.

Borgen told the New York Post the guilty pleas were “great news”. Addressing the prospect of the three men who pleaded guilty going to prison, he said: “If you beat up a Jew in the streets, this is what’s going to happen.

"You’re not going to get a slap on the wrist or a BS deal. You’re going to spend real time in jail.”

Recalling the incident, he added: “After I wound up on the ground, I was literally just in a fetal position, trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive.

“I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die."

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