Pro-Palestine activist is sentenced for beating up Jewish man in NYC

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One of the attackers convicted in the 2021 beating of a Jewish man shouted 'free Palestine' after his sentencing - as his defenders claimed the judge was 'racist.' Mahmoud Musa (pictured left), 23, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment plus five years of probation for his role in the unprovoked attack on 31-year-old Joseph Borgen (pictured center/right).

One of the attackers convicted in the 2021 beating of a Jewish man shouted ‘free Palestine’ after his sentencing – as his defenders claimed the judge was ‘racist.’ Mahmoud Musa (pictured left), 23, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment plus five years of probation for his role in the unprovoked attack on 31-year-old Joseph Borgen (pictured center/right).

Borgen was making his way to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square when a group of men swarmed him, lobbing slurs while pepper-spraying him. The assault occurred when tensions flared between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East two years ago. As Musa was being led to a holding cell Tuesday, he turned to tell his family he loved them before shouting 'Free Palestine' twice. This provoked another person to yell 'You're racist to judge!' at Judge Felicia Mennin. As court officers escorted the rowdy few from the courtroom, Borgen and his supporters - many sporting blue 'Justice For Joey' hats - lingered behind. Barry Borgen, the victim's father, expressed relief over the sentencing. 'I'm glad that they finally realized their mistakes,' he said. 'They see the atmosphere that's infesting New York City with the anti-Israeli protests and antisemitism, they have to crack down, and I think it's just the beginning.'

Borgen was making his way to a pro-Israel rally in Times Square when a group of men swarmed him, lobbing slurs while pepper-spraying him. The assault occurred when tensions flared between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East two years ago. As Musa was being led to a holding cell Tuesday, he turned to tell his family he loved them before shouting ‘Free Palestine’ twice. This provoked another person to yell ‘You’re racist to judge!’ at Judge Felicia Mennin. As court officers escorted the rowdy few from the courtroom, Borgen and his supporters – many sporting blue ‘Justice For Joey’ hats – lingered behind. Barry Borgen, the victim’s father, expressed relief over the sentencing. ‘I’m glad that they finally realized their mistakes,’ he said. ‘They see the atmosphere that’s infesting New York City with the anti-Israeli protests and antisemitism, they have to crack down, and I think it’s just the beginning.’

In his victim impact statement, Borgen recalled how Musa chased him with his 'fist cocked back...aimed and taking target at me.' He said: 'I was in a fetal position, doing anything possible to make it out alive. In my opinion, if the cops did not come and save my life, I would have died — that was [Musa's] goal and the goal of that group.' The Jewish man did not exchange any words with the group before he was kicked to the ground, berated and beaten. He said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and wrist pain as a result of the beating. Although Musa apologized to Borgen and the Jewish community, the victim said: 'I think he was only sorry that he got caught.' Musa's attorney, Lance Lazzaro, had asked for the attacker to be given the minimum sentence because he was 23 at the time of the ambush. The attorney also said he grew up in an atmosphere of having relatives living in Palestine 'like in a prison.'

In his victim impact statement, Borgen recalled how Musa chased him with his ‘fist cocked back…aimed and taking target at me.’ He said: ‘I was in a fetal position, doing anything possible to make it out alive. In my opinion, if the cops did not come and save my life, I would have died — that was [Musa’s] goal and the goal of that group.’ The Jewish man did not exchange any words with the group before he was kicked to the ground, berated and beaten. He said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and wrist pain as a result of the beating. Although Musa apologized to Borgen and the Jewish community, the victim said: ‘I think he was only sorry that he got caught.’ Musa’s attorney, Lance Lazzaro, had asked for the attacker to be given the minimum sentence because he was 23 at the time of the ambush. The attorney also said he grew up in an atmosphere of having relatives living in Palestine ‘like in a prison.’

Lazzaro added that Musa lost his father when he was young, grew up in poverty and 'never had the proper schooling in order to make him be able to make the right choices.' However, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Junig requested a sentence of six and a half years, as Musa allegedly touched a correction officer's breast at Rikers Island and had 'not showed any remorse.' In his own statement in court, Musa said: 'I understand that my behavior was unacceptable and take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences that followed.' According to Judge Mennin, Musa's 'participation and selection of a random person of the Jewish faith was planned, calculated and intentional.' The sentence 'has nothing to do with your beliefs, your freedom of speech, your identity or your national origin. It is being imposed [because of your] actions … which will not be tolerated in any civilized society.'

Lazzaro added that Musa lost his father when he was young, grew up in poverty and ‘never had the proper schooling in order to make him be able to make the right choices.’ However, Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Junig requested a sentence of six and a half years, as Musa allegedly touched a correction officer’s breast at Rikers Island and had ‘not showed any remorse.’ In his own statement in court, Musa said: ‘I understand that my behavior was unacceptable and take full responsibility for my actions and the consequences that followed.’ According to Judge Mennin, Musa’s ‘participation and selection of a random person of the Jewish faith was planned, calculated and intentional.’ The sentence ‘has nothing to do with your beliefs, your freedom of speech, your identity or your national origin. It is being imposed [because of your] actions … which will not be tolerated in any civilized society.’

Musa was led away after his sentencing. Outside the courtroom, his supporters continued to call the judge 'racist.' 'I'm satisfied,' Borgen said outside court. 'I think it was a strong, severe sentence for a strong, severe crime, and it sends a clear message moving forward that hate crimes … won't be treated with a slap on the wrist.' In 2021, just days after the assault, Borgen spoke out in an interview with DailyMail.com, saying he had feared for his life. Borgen, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was heading to the rally in Midtown when a young man in a black bandana started chasing him. 'I turned around to try to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles,' he told DailyMail.com following his release from Bellevue Hospital.

Musa was led away after his sentencing. Outside the courtroom, his supporters continued to call the judge ‘racist.’ ‘I’m satisfied,’ Borgen said outside court. ‘I think it was a strong, severe sentence for a strong, severe crime, and it sends a clear message moving forward that hate crimes … won’t be treated with a slap on the wrist.’ In 2021, just days after the assault, Borgen spoke out in an interview with DailyMail.com, saying he had feared for his life. Borgen, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was heading to the rally in Midtown when a young man in a black bandana started chasing him. ‘I turned around to try to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles,’ he told DailyMail.com following his release from Bellevue Hospital.

Video showed Borgen laying on the ground as he was battered by the mob outside 1604 Broadway. '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,' Borgen said. 'I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die.'

Video showed Borgen laying on the ground as he was battered by the mob outside 1604 Broadway. ‘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,’ 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 taking part in the beatdown and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as: 'You filthy Jew. We're going to [Expletive] kill you. Go back to Israel. Hamas is going to kill you.' He said the most painful part occurred toward the end of the attack, when they pepper sprayed him.

Borgen said there were eight to 10 people taking part in the beatdown and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as: ‘You filthy Jew. We’re going to [Expletive] kill you. Go back to Israel. Hamas is going to kill you.’ He said the most painful part occurred toward the end of the attack, when they pepper sprayed him.

'I thought I was getting urinated on because I felt a stream on my face. They maced me or pepper sprayed me for like a minute straight.' Musa is the third attacker to be sentenced. Faisal Elezzi, who threw two punches at Borgen, pleaded guilty in April 2023. He was initially granted three years' probation but was sentenced to 60 days on a drug charge. Waseem Awawdeh, who was filmed beating Borgen with crutches, was offered a six-month plea deal before he was ultimately handed 18 months.

 ‘I thought I was getting urinated on because I felt a stream on my face. They maced me or pepper sprayed me for like a minute straight.’ Musa is the third attacker to be sentenced. Faisal Elezzi, who threw two punches at Borgen, pleaded guilty in April 2023. He was initially granted three years’ probation but was sentenced to 60 days on a drug charge. Waseem Awawdeh, who was filmed beating Borgen with crutches, was offered a six-month plea deal before he was ultimately handed 18 months.

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