Staten Island Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Attacks on Jews

In spring 2021, Saadah Masoud traveled to a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan, asked a man wearing a necklace with a large Star of David whether he was Jewish and then punched him in the face.

About two weeks later, Mr. Masoud, 29, of Staten Island, threatened a Jewish man with whom he had argued previously at a Black Lives Matter event. Then one of Mr. Masoud’s associates hit the man. In 2022, Mr. Masoud was at a pro-Palestine march in Manhattan when he assaulted a counterprotester who had an Israeli flag draped over his shoulders like a cape.

On Friday, Mr. Masoud, who pleaded guilty in federal court in November to one count of conspiring to commit hate crimes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Jewish organizations have warned for years about a rise in antisemitism and violence. In 2017, torch-carrying marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Va. The next year, a man who had posted antisemitic comments on social media fatally shot 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

More recently, the musician Kanye West, who goes by “Ye,” said on Twitter that he would soon go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” and later posted a Swastika inside a Star of David. Last month, a man who the authorities said had a history of antisemitic conduct was charged with federal hate crimes after shooting and wounding two Jewish men in Los Angeles.

“You are burdened by enormous anger,” Judge Denise L. Cote of Federal District Court in Manhattan told Mr. Masoud while sentencing him. “You’re going to have to confront whatever is in your soul.”

Prosecutors had asked that Mr. Masoud receive a sentence of 18 months to two years, writing in a court filing that he had repeatedly engaged in hateful violence toward Jews.

Antisemitism in America

Antisemitism is one of the longest-standing forms of prejudice, and those who monitor it say it is now on the rise across the country.

“Each of these assaults was brazen,” the prosecutors wrote.

Mr. Masoud’s lawyers had sought a six-month sentence. They denied that he was antisemitic and said he had only attacked people whom he knew as outspoken supporters of Israel.

“His conduct toward them would have been the same, no matter the religious faith to which they belonged,” the defense lawyers wrote, adding that their client had been “triggered” in part by “constant confrontation with counterprotesters at demonstrations.”

Before being sentenced, Mr. Masoud stood and issued apologies to each of his victims, saying he regretted his actions.

“I realize that I have anger issues and I need to work on them,” he added.

The first assault at issue in the case occurred in late May 2021, on a day when pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters clashed in Midtown. More than two dozen people were arrested amid the conflict, which was inflamed by days of fighting overseas that resulted in 230 deaths in Gaza and 12 in Israel.

The day before the assault, prosecutors said, Mr. Masoud had taken part in a group chat in which he and others discussed disrupting a pro-Israel rally. Mr. Masoud, prosecutors said, wrote: “VIOLENT!! ONLY VIOLENCE … IN PALESTINE THEY WISHHH THEY COULD SMACK A ZIONIST AND NOT GET TORTURED TO DEATH. WE CAN THO!!”

At the rally, Mr. Masoud punched the man with the Star of David necklace, who was walking with his wife, according to court papers.

After the assault, prosecutors said, Mr. Masoud exchanged further text messages with his associates, stating: “no videos of me anywhere” and “No face no case.”

In June 2021, prosecutors said, Mr. Masoud approached a man who was sitting in a car outside his Brooklyn home. The man, Heshy Tischler, had become known during the pandemic as a supporter of President Donald J. Trump and an opponent of many of the city’s coronavirus containment measures.

At the time, Mr. Tischler was running for a City Council seat. He had recently pleaded guilty to inciting a riot in Brooklyn on a night when several people punched and kicked a Jewish journalist whom Mr. Tischler had called a “traitor.”

According to prosecutors, Mr. Masoud, whom Mr. Tischler had previously identified as having shouted antisemitic insults at him, got out of his car and told him, in effect, “We know where you live. We’ll get you.”

When Mr. Tischler got out of his car and tried to record with his phone, Mr. Masoud knocked it from his hand and an associate of Mr. Masoud’s then punched Mr. Tischler in the face, prosecutors said.

A few days later, prosecutors wrote, Mr. Masoud described the attack in an Instagram direct message, saying, “some jew politician said I assaulted him.”

On Friday, Mr. Tischler addressed the court before Mr. Masoud was sentenced, calling him an “evil man” who had showed up at Mr. Tischler’s home “to see blood.”

The third assault took place in April 2022 when Mr. Masoud participated in a pro-Palestine march in Manhattan and saw a man named Matt Greenman marching alongside the main protest with the flag draped over his back.

Mr. Masoud chased Mr. Greenman and threw him to the ground, prosecutors said. They added that an older woman who was walking with Mr. Greenman had fallen and hurt her leg.

Mr. Masoud “repeatedly punched” Mr. Greenman in the head and face, dragged his face along the sidewalk “and then ripped his Israeli flag from his neck and ran away,” prosecutors said. Mr. Greenman, they added, had been treated for a concussion.

When Mr. Masoud was arrested in 2022 and brought to court, prosecutors said, he recognized the case detective and said to him: “All this for one Jew?”

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