Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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NYC Palestinian man sentenced in brutal antisemitic beating before judge ejects angry supporters from court

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A large group that turned out to support a Palestinian-American man convicted of taking part in a hate crime beating of a Jewish man in a Times Square protest was ejected from a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday after shouting at the judge during his sentencing.

Mahmoud Musa was among a group of men who brutally beat Joseph Borgen after spotting him in public wearing a yarmulke in 2021. They set out that morning “to attack Jewish people,” according to prosecutors, and they found Borgen, who was headed to a pro-Israel rally. 

They pummeled him to the floor, kicked him while he was down and doused him with pepper spray.

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“I felt a liquid being poured on my face, and at first I thought I was getting urinated on, but it turned out I was getting maced and pepper sprayed,” Borgen told the New York Post shortly after the 2021 attack. “My face was on fire. That pain was worse than the concussion and all this other stuff that followed.”

Video of the attack also showed his assailants berating him with antisemitic slurs as they left him with a concussion and needing a neck brace.

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“If the cops did not come, if they did not save my life, I would have died,” Borgen said during his victim impact statement.

Borgen’s supporters sat quietly in the courtroom Tuesday, wearing hats and T-shirts demanding justice and condemning antisemitism. 

About 30 minutes into the hearing, Musa’s supporters arrived. His defense wanted the minimum, three and a half years, but prosecutors had asked for a six-year sentence.

After Judge Felicia Mennin told Musa he would be spending seven years behind bars, his side of the crowd erupted, calling it “unfair.”

The Post reported that journalists in the back of the courtroom overheard them calling Judge Mennin a “racist” for the sentence, which is less than half of the maximum punishment of 15 years.

Court officers removed them from the building. It was another 20 minutes before the courthouse was cleared and Borgen’s supporters and members of the media were told they could safely head outside.

Borgen said he was happy with the sentence but still worried about antisemitic violence amid ongoing protests about the current war between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian terror group that launched a surprise attack on the country last month.

“I’m relieved it’s over, I think we got a strong prison sentence and I think it sends a clear message that Jewish blood, for that matter hate crimes in all senses of the word, are not going to be treated lightly in New York City,” Borgen told reporters outside the courthouse. 

Two other suspects in the attack have received much shorter sentences, and two more have not yet learned their fate.

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