Assailant sentenced to 7 years for antisemitic attack on Joseph Borgen in 2021


(New York Jewish Week) — A man who attacked Joseph Borgen on his way to a pro-Israel rally in 2021 has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the assault.

Defendant Mahmoud Musa, from Staten Island, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault as a hate crime earlier this year. In May 2021, at the end of a conflict between Israel and Hamas, Musa and several other assailants beat Borgen, who was 29, near Times Square while he was walking to a pro-Israel rally. Borgen, who was wearing a kippah, was punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and beaten with crutches.

Musa apologized to Borgen in the courtroom on Wednesday, a statement that Borgen dismissed as disingenuous.

“If you’re going to go attack me in the street because I’m wearing a yarmulke, shout antisemitic slurs at me, and then after the fact celebrate what you did, I don’t think you’re remorseful,” Borgen said, according to CBS.

The attack on Borgen was caught on camera and drew widespread condemnation. Borgen’s supporters pushed the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to forcefully prosecute the attackers. Two other attackers have received lighter sentences than Musa in the case, and two others are awaiting sentencing.

“Today Mahmoud Musa was held accountable for his role in repeatedly assaulting a Jewish man,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement sent to the New York Jewish Week. “Mr. Borgen continues to suffer from significant trauma and pain from this incident. No one should have to endure the type of vicious, hate-driven attack he experienced, and I hope he continues to heal and recover.”

The sentencing came as antisemitic hate crimes have spiked in New York amid Israel’s war against Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza.

Antisemitism also rose in the city during the 2021 conflict. This year, there have been fewer violent incidents surrounding protests. A Jewish security group late last month said that was likely because the prosecution of Borgen’s attackers had a deterrent effect, and because police were effectively controlling demonstrations and the surrounding areas.

According to an account in the New York Post, Musa shouted “Free Palestine” as he was escorted out of the courtroom.