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‘What kind of message does this send?’ says New York City hate-crime victim

Joseph Borgen delivered a victim impact statement at Manhattan Supreme Court before the sentencing of Waseem Awawdeh.

Speaking in Manhattan Supreme Court on June 13, Joseph Borgen expressed disappointment at the sentencing of his antisemitic attacker, Waseem Awawdeh, who was sentenced to 18 months, saying he got off with a “slap on the wrist.”

“What kind of message does this send to everybody, to all victims of hate crime?” said Borgen, 31, in a seven-minute victim impact statement. “I really can’t fathom why he’s getting a deal. … I wanted to go to trial. I wanted to see full justice.”

Awawdeh, 24, struck Borgen four times with a crutch as part of a group attack in New York City in May 2021. Borgen heard someone say, “You dirty Jew, [expletive] Israel, go back to your country.”

Awawdeh’s plea agreement with the office of District Attorney Alvin Bragg avoids a trial and potentially harsher sentence.

Ari Kagan, a New York City Council member, called the deal “despicable, shameful and outrageous.” He added that “Joe Borgen was viciously attacked simply for being Jewish. Eighteen months in jail for this hate crime is not justice.”

The Combat Antisemitism Movement said it is “unfathomable” that Awawdeh “was given a plea deal. When the perpetrator states a remorseless willingness to commit the crime again, justice is not served.”

Joel M. Petlin, superintendent of New York’s Kiryas Joel School District, called Bragg “soft on crime.”

Awadeh’s sentence covers both the antisemitic assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Three others allegedly involved in the crime also face trials.

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