NEW YORK — New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams on Saturday denounced the beating of a Jewish man in Times Square as part of a “pandemic of hate” that must be nipped in the bud.
The Democratic candidate said he was shocked to watch the video of Joseph Borgen, 29, being beaten and pepper-sprayed by pro-Palestinian protesters on Thursday night.
“When I saw that video, it struck at the heart of what I expect from New Yorkers,” Adams said. “It really made me think about where we are as a city.”
Adams said Borgen was attacked because he is Jewish “and that is unacceptable.”
Borgen, 29, of Long Island, said he was heading to a pro-Israel rally when he was set upon at the corner of W. 48th St. and Seventh Ave.
“You dirty Jew, f— Israel, go back to your country!’” Borgen said the attackers screamed during the 6:30 p.m. attack.
“I didn’t even make it to the rally,” said Borgen to the Daily News on Friday. “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.”
Waseem Awawdeh, 23, of Brooklyn, was arrested and charged with hate crime assault, hate crime menacing and aggravated harassment, cops said. More suspects were still being sought Saturday.
A second victim, a Jewish woman, suffered burns to her back when someone tossed fireworks at her from a passing car on W. 47th St. around 6 p.m., cops said.
The attack on protester Melissa Mettle, 55, occurred about 30 minutes earlier and a block south from where Borgen was attacked, and was also under investigation as a hate crime.
Tensions have been running high over the outbreak of fighting in Gaza, which has left hundreds dead and widespread destruction.
Adams framed the attack on Borgen as part of a “pandemic of hate” that has spread from the attacks on Asian New Yorkers to vandalizing synagogues and mosques.
The Brooklyn borough president and ex-police captain called for more street cameras to identify the perpetrators of hate crimes and better education for young people.
He touted the success of “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds,” a program launched by the Brooklyn borough president’s office to bring New Yorkers of different ethnic and religious groups together over meals.
“We found the vaccine for COVID,” Adams said. “The vaccine for hate must come from everyday New Yorkers and everyday Americans.”
Adams has been neck and neck with fellow Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang in recent polls. Surveys say many voters remain undecided with less that a month to go in the race.