After Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg offered a disgraceful plea deal of just six months in jail to Waseem Awawdeh for savagely beating Joey Borgen simply based on his faith, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman held a sizeable press conference to shed light on anti-Semitism this past Thursday, January 19. The room at the Ceremonial Chamber of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola was filled with county officials and activists who rallied in support of Borgen, with the general message addressing DA Bragg: “We won’t stand for such bail nonsense!”
Appreciation is extended to Blakeman’s special assistant Sheya Landa for ensuring the success of the program.
“We condemn the disgraceful plea deal offered to the animal who attacked Nassau County resident Joey Borgen because of his Jewish faith,” said Blakeman, adding that “Awawdeh showed no remorse for his crime and has said [more than once] that he ‘would do it again.’”
Blakeman provided case details and offered ways for the public to pressure the DA to lengthen the proposed sentence. “We are sending a dangerous message to those people who would engage in any kind of hate crime,” he said. A video message from Borgen discussing his experience was shown afterwards. The defendant is set to return to court on Thursday, January 26.
Justiceforjoey.org has announced a solidarity rally at the Manhattan courthouse for Thursday morning, encouraging action against hate crimes targeting Jews. We will not be silent in the face of these hate crimes. Leniency towards Jew-haters only encourages more violence against Jews. The law calls for punishment, and the law must be enforced.
“Are we living in a pre-Nazi Germany period of the 1930s?” questioned Dov Hikind of Americans Against Antisemitism. Hikind agreed that we are not yet at that point, but we are headed in that direction. “We have never witnessed what we are witnessing now, Jews being attacked on a regular basis.” Hikind noted that Borgen committed the same crime that his grandparents committed as they walked into the gas chambers: They were Jews! Hikind reminded the audience that Joey was a Jew who represents all of us.
State Assembly Member Ari Brown, a friend of Borgen’s for three decades, called on Governor Hochul to weigh in on the DA’s decision. “If the governor has some decency, she has to step up and remove him,” he proclaimed.
While I was unable to attend the presser, my friend Dr. Paul Brody, a noted Great Neck activist, made it his business to attend. “The array of elected officials, religious representatives, and activists, was both impressive and convincing that the paltry six-month incarceration of the assailant, and diluted misdemeanor charge, need to be reviewed and upgraded, if only as a preventative measure against further virulent antisemitic acts.” Rabbi Shalom Axelrod, mara d’asra, Young Israel of Woodmere, and Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, Rosh Yeshivah and Dean at Yeshiva of South Shore, also attended.
Blakeman addressed Bragg: “There is a time here before the final decision is made for you to reflect upon what was spoken here today. We came here in good will, but you should not be deluded that we came here without a sense of purpose. Do not mistake kindness for weakness. We will be strong; we will not tolerate this; we will fight this. You have an opportunity, DA Bragg, to reflect and consider what you are about to do. People from the Jewish community, and people from every community, speaking out and saying that justice must be done, otherwise these crimes will repeat themselves. First it is the Jews; who is next?”
After being asked to comment on the case, Bragg’s office sent a insufficient reply: “Our Hate Crimes Unit made these appropriately strong recommendations following a thorough investigation that illuminated facts, evidence, and varying levels of culpability.”
Express your outrage directly to DA Bragg at 212-335-9000.
By Shabsie Saphirstein