FIRST ON FOX – A Jewish man savagely beaten on the streets of New York City is speaking out Thursday for the first time since Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg offered the alleged ringleader of the antisemitic attack a lenient six-month plea deal.
Joey Borgen, an accountant on the Upper East Side, was wearing a yarmulke while on his way to a rally in support of Israel when tensions were flaring with Palestine in May 2021 when a gang of men surrounded him near Times Square. Waseem Awawdeh was seen on surveillance video using a metal crutch to beat Borgen, who was also punched, kicked, knocked to the ground and doused with pepper spray, according to the criminal complaint. NYPD officers broke up the attack, and Awawdeh was arrested nearby.
During the brutal beatdown, Awawdeh allegedly called Borgen a “dirty Jew,” said, “F-k Israel,” and said, “Hamas is going to kill all of you.”
Yet, about a year and a half later, Bragg offered Awawdeh a six-month plea deal last week – even after prosecutors at Awawdeh’s arraignment said the alleged ringleader of the attack told jailers he “would do it again” if he could. The next court hearing, when Awawdeh can either accept or reject the deal, is scheduled for Jan. 26.
On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Bruce A. Blakeman will host an 11 a.m. news conference with faith leaders and other elected officials including former Assemblyman Dov Hikind demanding Bragg rethink the offer.
In an interview beforehand, Blakeman implored that Bragg “not accept this plea, that he prosecute this ringleader to the fullest degree and that this be an example of what happens if you commit a hate crime.” “This guy needs to do hard time, Blakeman, the first Jew elected as Nassau County executive, added, describing Borgen’s alleged attackers as a “pack of wild animals.”
“Alvin Bragg is sending the wrong message to anyone that would commit a hate crime. What he needs to do is understand that if he lets this guy off easy, then in that circumstance, it’s going to embolden others to do the same thing,” Blakeman told Fox News Digital.
“I think it’s a pervasive feeling throughout New York that criminals have more rights than victims, and I think that’s especially true in Manhattan where District Attorney Alvin Bragg has demonstrated that he is not going to keep us safe, he’s not going to uphold the law, and he doesn’t understand the gravity of his decisions,” he added.
Borgen, whose family resides in Long Island’s Nassau County, created a video message for Thursday’s press conference.
In the video obtained by Fox News Digital in advance, he began by “expressing my utmost gratitude to everyone who coordinated this event, attended this event, and is supporting me in general.” “A year and a half ago, I was walking through Times Square en route to a rally to support Israel when out of the corner of my eye, I caught someone chasing me with their fists cocked, and apparently making a beeline toward me,” Borgen recalled. “Before I could even react, I was surrounded by a group of pro-Palestinian sympathizers who proceeded to beat me, kick me, punch me, beat me with weapons, and even pepper spray or mace me, I’m still not 100% sure.”
“This past year and a half since the attack has been a major whirlwind. And it’s times like these when things are really getting tough, that the support of the community and the larger Jewish people as a whole really means a lot and really enables me to get through all these tough times,” he added. “Rest assured, I’m going to still be doing what I can to support the Jewish people and this cause.”
Under Bragg’s predecessor, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Awawdeh was charged with second-degree assault as a hate crime and first-degree gang assault. It came at a time officials in New York City – and across the country – condemned the rise in antisemitic attacks. The Anti-Defamation League tracked a 75% spike in antisemitic incidents in May 2021 compared with two weeks before the escalation of a military conflict between Israel and Hamas.