A pro-Palestinian activist from Staten Island was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday for for attacking Jewish at protests regarding Israel
Saadah Masoud, 29, was sentenced at the Federal District Court in Manhattan to one count of conspiring to commit hate crimes.
The sentence is notable because most hate crime charges in New York City are dropped before conviction, according to a 2022 report by The City. Recent NYPD data showed that antisemitic incidents have increased recently in the five boroughs.
Incidents of antisemitism
In the spring of 2021 — amid a raucous public debate over conflict in Israel and Gaza, as well as a spike in antisemitic attacks — Masoud went to a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan. There, he asked a man wearing a Star of David necklace if he was Jewish, then punched him in the face. The man was walking with his wife, according to court papers.
Two weeks later, Masound alo shouted antisemitic insults at Heshy Tischler, an outspoken Orthodox activist in Brooklyn who had also railed against pandemic restrictions. After Tischler began filming, another associate of Masoud ultimately hit Tischler, who was running for City Council at the time.
Tischler addressed the court on Friday and called Masoud an “evil man” who showed up to “to see blood.”
And in 2022, Masoud was at a march hosted by the pro-Palestinian group Within Our Lifetime in Manhattan, where he assaulted a counterprotester, Matt Greenman, who had an Israeli flag draped over his body.
Masound threw Greenman to the ground, repeatedly punched him, dragged his face along the sidewalk, then ripped the Israeli flag from his neck, prosecutors said. At that same march, protestors called to ‘Globalize the Intifada’ and told the New York Jewish Week that they would not speak to the “Zionist Media.”
Prosecutors asked for the 18-month sentence, but Masoud’s lawyers argued for six months, denying that the defendant was antisemitic, and saying that he only attacked people who were supporters of Israel, according to the New York Times.
Masoud apologized on Friday in court and said he regretted his actions.
“I realize that I have anger issues and I need to work on them,” he said.
Judge Denise L. Cote, who presided over the hearing on Friday, told Masoud that he is “burdened by enormous anger.”
“You’re going to have to confront whatever is in your soul,” Cote said.