A Jewish man heading to a pro-Israel rally says he thought he was going to die after a gang of pro-Palestinian demonstrators assaulted him in Midtown Manhattan, punching him to the pavement and then pummeling him while he was down while yelling anti-Semitic epithets.
Joseph Borgen, 29, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was wearing a grey kippa and walking toward Times Square around 6:30pm Thursday when a young man with a black bandana started chasing him.
‘I turned around to try to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles,’ he told DailyMail.com Friday afternoon from his apartment after being released from Bellevue Hospital.
Joseph Borgen, 29, spoke to DailyMail.com one day after he was left bruised and battered by a group of pro-Palestinian men in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday
The Jewish man, who lives in the Upper East Side, had been wearing a kippa as he headed to a pro-Israel rally when he was suddenly targeted by the group who kicked, punched, and beat him with crutches and flag poles on the street. Pictured: Borgen’s bruised and battered face
On Friday, the NYPD identified 23-year-old Waseem Awawdah as one of the suspects in the attack
‘I don’t even want to look in the mirror,’ said Borgen, his face and body bruised, and head throbbing from a possible concussion.
Video of the assault showed Borgen was left defenseless on the ground as he was battered by the angry mob outside of 1604 Broadway.
‘After I wound up on the ground, I was literally just in a fetal position, trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive,’ Borgen said.
‘I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die.’
Borgen said there were eight to 10 people taking part in the beatdown and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as: ‘You filthy Jew. We’re going to f*****g kill you. Go back to Israel. Hamas is going to kill you.’
He said the most painful part occurred toward the end, when they pepper sprayed him.
‘I thought I was getting urinated on because I felt a stream on my face. ‘They maced me or pepper sprayed me for like a minute straight.
Video of the assault showed Borgen was left defenseless as he was kicked, punched, and beaten with crutches and flag poles by a mob of eight to 10 people
Borgen recalled lying on the ground in a fetal position, ‘trying to guard my head and face, literally just trying to make it out of their alive’
Awawdah, of Brooklyn, is charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon
‘My whole face was on fire. I couldn’t see. In the hospital, they literally had to drain out my eyes. My skin’s still on fire in certain places,’ he added.
The NYPD on Friday announced one of the alleged suspects has been taken into custody, and up to six others are being sought.
The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, of Brooklyn, who was arrested last night.
Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Awawdeh wearing a black t-shirt with ‘Palestine’ emblazoned on the front, as he was led out of the 5th Precinct in handcuffs on Friday.
Awawdeh is charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.
He’s being held at Central Booking downtown.
Borgen said the ruthless beatdown finally came to an end when police officers showed up and dispersed the crowd.
‘It could have been worse. If you’ve seen the video, especially, it could have been much worse,’ he added.
Borgen, pictured in the hospital, said the most painful part occurred toward the end of the beatdown, when he was pepper sprayed
Borgen, an accountant, recalled hearing his attackers call him a ‘filthy Jew’ and say ‘Hamas is going to kill you’ as they pummeled him
He said he was expecting it be a peaceful demonstration as he headed to midtown, where friends were gathering for a rally to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas.
Violent clashes have erupted between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the city over the last week as tensions in the Middle East flared.
On Thursday, two fireworks were thrown into a crowd near Times Square, leaving a 55-year-old woman injured just hours after a cease-fire was declared between Israel and Gaza militants.
‘I was going there to show my support, show my pride in Israel, let them know we have their back even though we’re 6,000 miles away,’ Borgen said.
He said there were no real problems last week when he joined a similar demonstration.
Wassem Awawdah is walked out of the 5th Precinct and into Central Booking for the attack on a Jewish Man during a Palestinian / Israeli Protest on 47th Street in Manhattan
He believes the mere fact he was wearing a kippa triggered a mob to attack him.
Besides the actual culprits, he blamed ‘certain politicians’ for creating an atmosphere that encourages such attacks, citing US Rep. Ilham Omar’s tweet accusing Israel of committing an ‘act of terrorism’ as an example.
‘They feel like they can get away with more because they have politicians backing them up,’ Borgen said.
‘Some of the things I see in the news and on social media, it’s just sickening to me’
‘I would never think I’d ever have to worry about my religion or my skin color or my ethnicity being a problem in New York city,’ he continued.
‘Beyond just the Jewish perspective, the amount of hate that’s going on these days is really just mind blowing to me.
‘I have a coworker who is of Asian descent who is afraid to ride the subway at night. It’s just sickening.’
The Anti-Defamation League this week reported almost 200 attacks on American Jews in the seven days from May 10 – the date that Hamas first fired rockets at Israel.
That number represents an almost 40 percent increase on the 131 anti-Semitic incidents that were clocked in the US the week before.
‘As the violence between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, we are witnessing a dangerous and drastic surge in anti-Jewish hate right here at home,’ ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Thursday.