Frankel v. Regents of the University of California

Becket Role:
Case Start Date:
June 5, 2024
Deciding Court:
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
Original Court:
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Case Snapshot

In the wake of the terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, anti-Jewish protests emerged on college campuses nationwide. At UCLA, activists set up an encampment in the heart of campus where they enforced a “Jew Exclusion Zone,” segregating Jewish students and faculty and preventing them from going to their classes, accessing the library, or participating in routine campus social life. Meanwhile, UCLA’s administration ordered police to stand down and step aside and even assigned security officers to keep those who would not agree to disavow Israel’s right to exist away from the area. Three Jewish UCLA students are now asking a federal court to hold UCLA accountable for allowing the antisemitic encampment checkpoints.


On June 5, 2024, Becket, alongside Clement & Murphy, PLLC, filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to hold UCLA accountable for enabling the Jew Exclusion Zone and to ensure that Jewish students will never again face such antisemitic bigotry on campus.
Photo of UCLA's Royce Hall, with pitched tents on the lawn

Case Summary

UCLA’s exclusion of Jews

In the months following the terrorist attacks on Israel in October of 2023, pro-Hamas, anti-Jewish protests emerged throughout the country, most notably on college campuses. In spring 2024, extremist students and outside agitators at UCLA set up barricades in the most popular area of campus and established an encampment in violation of the school’s policies.  

Those agitators refused to let students through unless they disavowed Israel’s right to exist. The effect of this encampment was to segregate Jewish students and faculty with religious and ethnic obligations not to condemn Israel, preventing them from accessing the encampment and other parts of campus, including the campus’s most popular undergraduate library and classroom buildings. The activists used checkpoints, built barriers, and often locked arms to prevent Jews from walking through the encampment.  They also created an identification system, giving wristbands to those who had passed their anti-Israel ideological test and preventing those without one from entering. 

For a full week, UCLA’s administration failed to clear the Jew Exclusion Zone and instead ordered campus police to stand down and allow the illegal encampment to stay. The administration even stationed security staff around the encampment to keep students unapproved by the protestors out of the area.

Jewish students harassed, intimidated, and assaulted 

Agitators within the encampment viciously targeted Jewish students. Yitzchok Frankel, a law student and father of four, faced antisemitic harassment and was forced to abandon his regular routes through campus because of the Jew Exclusion Zone. Joshua Ghayoum, a sophomore and history major, was repeatedly blocked from attending classes, meetings, and study sessions. He also heard chants at the encampment like “death to Israel” and “death to Jews.” Eden Shemuelian, another law student, had her final exam studies severely compromised when she was forced to walk around the encampment to access the law school and forced to endure antisemitic chants rising from the Jew Exclusion Zone as she studied. These students were hardly alone; many other Jewish students and faculty were assaulted by antisemitic agitators. 

UCLA taken to court over Jew Exclusion Zone  

With the help of Becket and Clement & Murphy, PLLC, the students filed a federal lawsuit against UCLA on June 5, 2024. Becket asked the court to hold UCLA accountable for enabling the Jew Exclusion Zone and to ensure that no such encampment exists on campus in the future.   

UCLA boasts of its commitment to diversity and its welcoming campus environment. But it has failed miserably to live up to those ideals when it comes to the Jewish members of its community. No person should have to fear for their safety when walking around any public space or pass a religious test to access any public area, let alone on the campus of a public American university.  

Importance to religious liberty:

  • Education: Students don’t give up their rights when they attend a public college. Establishments of higher education are meant to ensure that all students have equal access to campus and receive equal protection under the law.  
  • Free Speech: Free speech includes the right to a free and peaceful exchange of ideas with others—including religious ideas. It also prevents the government from forcing individuals to parrot approved opinions. Freedom of speech and religious liberty go hand-in-hand; protecting one protects the other. 
  • Public Square: Religion is a natural part of human culture and should not be scrubbed from the public square. This includes public university campuses, which are reflections of the students who attend them and the taxpayers who support them, including religious students and taxpayers.