Community members in the Five Towns rallied on Thursday to denounce hate crimes following a Lawrence man who was the victim of an antisemitic attack in New York City last week. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost/Steve Pfost

A Lawrence man who was the victim of an antisemitic attack in New York City last week rallied with local community members in the Five Towns Thursday to denounce hate crimes amid the carnage of tensions between Israel and Hamas.

Joseph Borgen, 29, of Lawrence, was attacked May 20 after he exited a train at 48th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, while wearing a yarmulke, on his way to a rally to support Israel, an account corroborated by the NYPD.

Five or six men attacked Borgen, punching, kicking and pepper-spraying him on the ground while making antisemitic remarks, police said. The assault was roundly condemned by New York and Nassau leaders.

Police arrested two of the pro-Palestinian assailants, Waseem Awawdeh, 23 of Brooklyn, and Faisal Elezzi, 25, of Staten Island. They were both charged with hate crimes including assault, menacing and harassment. They were released on $10,000 bail.

At the rally, Borden said he was fighting antisemitism when he was attacked. He thanked the NYPD for rushing to his side, but said he hasn’t heard from the mayor or governor.

"Moving forward I want to prevent what happened to me to happen to anyone. No one should be afraid of leaving their house and getting hit in the street," Borden said.

Hundreds gathered at the Cedarhurst Park as religious and elected officials condemned hate and called for unity behind Israel.

"On behalf of Israel we are here to fight rabid disease," Israeli Consulate General Israel Nitzan said. "People like Joseph Borden are innocent victims of hate we’ve seen enough. When criminals decide what religion is not acceptable we’re not free.

"We must stand united against hate here... this recent conflict in Israel was a wake-up call hate exists against our people no matter where," Nitzan said.

NYPD Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the city’s hate crime division said detectives are still investigating the attack. "New York City does not tolerate hate," Corey said. "Everyday we’re trying to apprehend perpetrators of hate."

Former mayor of Lawrence, Marty Rosen, who was the personal attorney to Holocaust survivor and Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal, said: "We’ve got a lot of work to do...We have to let them know what they’ve done is totally unacceptable."

Borgen’s father, Barry Borgen, said his son still has headaches and injured his wrist trying to shield his face.

"They pounded him to the floor and sprayed mace in his eyes," Barry Borgen said. "He had a concussion and was beat up pretty bad. It’s horrific. Thank God they didn’t kill him."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered state police to give extra protection to Jewish places of worship and said Thursday the state would add patrols during Shabbos when attacks have spiked during prayers.

"I want our message to be very loud and clear — New Yorkers stand together in solidarity," Cuomo said. "We have no tolerance for discrimination against anyone and that certainly applies to our Jewish brothers and sisters."

"I think it’s important the community comes together to stand up for Israel and against the rash of antisemitic attacks around the country and our area to demonstrate we have no tolerance for it," Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin said local leaders and the town needed to show solidarity with Jewish neighbors.

"Now is the time public officials need to stand up and voice opposition to antisemitism and show clearly where they stand in the Jewish community," Clavin said.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the Jewish communities are afraid, but local are working to prevent attacks and stamp out hateful graffiti.

"I really believe if it is ok to attack Jewish people, it is open season on all of us," Curran said. "We are truly in this together."

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