State and local officials condemned an anti-Semitic gang attack against a pro-Israel protester in Times Square last week.
According to video evidence and multiple reports, 29-year-old Joseph Borgen was attacked by a group of people on Thursday while walking towards a protest filled with supporters of Israel and Palestine expressing different views on the Gaza Strip conflict. Borgen, a Jewish resident of Lawrence, told the Daily News that the attackers punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and struck him with crutches and signs, while saying anti-Semitic slurs.
“They were saying, ‘You dirty Jew, f— Israel, go back to your country!,” Borgen told the Daily News. “I’m definitely shaken up. I’m generally sore and hurt. But I want to say I’m a little thankful, because I saw the video and I could have died.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and local officials condemned the Times Square attack.
“I unequivocally condemn these brutal attacks on visibly Jewish New Yorkers and we will not tolerate anti-Semitic violent gang harassment and intimidation,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Those of all faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities must be able to walk the streets safely and free from harassment and violence.”
“We must stand together to stop the recent surge in anti-Semitic attacks,” Schumer said in a statement. “We must stand together against the forces of hate. Antisemitism, bigotry, and intolerance have no place in New York or anywhere else.”
“The recent attacks targeting Jews in New York City are deeply disturbing and must be forcefully condemned,” U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said in a statement. “Hatred and bigotry don’t belong in NY or anywhere across our country.”
“Antisemitism, violence, and threats to Jews are real and growing,” U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said in a statement. “We must speak out and stop it. I will continue to stand with my Jewish friends, speak with law enforcement officials and do everything I can to help protect them. Hate and violence cannot be tolerated or explained. It is wrong and must be stopped.”
As of Tuesday, 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh and 25-year-old Faisal Elezzi had been arrested for their alleged participation in the attack against Borgen, according to police reports. The men were two of five suspects the New York City Police Department was searching for.
After the attack, Cuomo ordered the state police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to offer aid to the New York City Police Department in the investigation into the attack. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she has been in contact with county police to keep in constant communication with yeshivas, synagogues and other houses of worship to ensure the safety of county residents.
“I’m appalled by the antisemitic gang attacks in NYC that victimized a Nassau resident, as well as the rising number of attacks targeting Jews in major cities like Los Angeles and London,” Curran said in a statement. “We must stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and against vile antisemitism.”
“Antisemitism has no place here,” Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) said in a statement. “Hatred and violence have no place here. I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Jewish New Yorkers across the state. We support you. The scenes from Times Square are chilling and must not be tolerated.”
Protests and demonstrations, such as the one held in Times Square, came after members of Hamas stationed in Gaza fired rockets towards Jerusalem following clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police earlier in May. On Friday, a cease-fire took effect after 11 days of fighting between the two sides.