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Jewish Man Assaulted at Pro Palestinian Rally in NYC, Arrest Made While NYPD Looking for More Suspects

UPDATE October 2, 2023: Three men who assaulted a Jew near a pro-Israel rally in Times Square in 2021 each pleaded guilty this week to a hate crime and will spend years in prison.

Mahmoud Musa and Mohammed Othman pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of second-degree assault as a hate crime, and Mohammed Said Othman pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree attempted gang assault and third-degree assault as a hate crime, for a May 20, 2021 attack that left the victim, Joseph Borgen, with multiple injuries including a concussion; more here.

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A Jewish man who was beaten by a mob of Palestinian supporters in Midtown Thursday evening suffered a concussion — and said he now has to “second guess wearing a yarmulke in public.”

Joseph Borgen, 29, an accountant from the Upper East Side, said he was walking to the rally when multiple people ganged up on him on Broadway near West 49th Street. 

“There was a rally at this location last week, which I had gone to,” Borgen told The Post. “I wore a yarmulke last week, and nothing big happened. I showed up for the same rally this week. I got off the subway at 6:30 and started walking to the rally, and before I could even make it to the rally, a few blocks away, a guy started chasing me.”

“I tried to get away, and the next thing I knew, I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to kick me, punch me, beat me down,” he recalled. “I felt a liquid being poured on my face and at first I thought I was getting urinated on, but it tuned out I was getting maced and pepper sprayed. My face was on fire. That pain was worse than the concussion and all this other stuff that followed.”

In the attack, captured on video, Borgen was knocked to the ground by a group of five or six men who allegedly made antisemitic statements, punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and struck him with crutches.

After what felt like four minutes of getting beaten, cops broke it up, Borgen said. An ambulance took him to Bellevue.

“I have a concussion,” Borgen said. “I had an X-ray on my wrist. It’s not broken but it’s messed up. Every time I move it it’s in pain, probably sprained. I have bruises all over my body. I have a black eye. My face is banged up. I’m just sore all over my body. They were kicking me in my ribs, my stomach.”

Police searched the area and took a 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, of Bay Ridge, into custody, cops said. 

He was charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

The other suspects remain at large.

Borgen said he went to the demonstration “solely with the intention of standing side-by-side with my fellow Jews or whoever supports Israel.”

“I’ve heard of waves of hate increasing through the city, and maybe I was a little naive to think it would never happen to me,” he said. “There are numerous minority groups that are currently under attack. I’ve been in New York for my entire life and I would never in a million years have thought that it would get to this point where I would have to second guess wearing a yarmulke in public.”  

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea condemned the attack in a strongly worded Friday tweet. 

“There is NO place for hate of ANY kind, against ANY group, by ANYONE in NYC,” the top cop said. “This, and every incident, will be fully investigated by @NYPDHateCrimes — as they always do. This is a time for NYers to come #together, to be New Yorkers above all else.”

The incident came about a half-hour before a firework was flung from a pickup truck full of Palestinian flag-waving protesters — landing near a 55-year-old woman, who was burned.