Press Release

Jewish students take UCLA to court over antisemitic encampment UCLA students ask court to hold university accountable for allowing exclusion of Jews from heart of campus

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

Photo of UCLA's Royce Hall, with pitched tents on the lawn

WASHINGTON Three Jewish students filed a federal lawsuit against the University of California, Los Angeles, today for allowing antisemitic activists to bar them and other Jewish students from accessing the heart of campus. In Frankel v. Regents of the University of California, UCLA allowed a group of extremist students and outside agitators to set up an encampment where they stopped Jewish students and faculty from going to their classes, offices and the library. With the help of Becket, two law students and an undergraduate are now asking a federal court to hold UCLA accountable for allowing this antisemitic encampment and the rampant anti-Jewish discrimination it bred. 

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, anti-Jewish demonstrations emerged on college campuses nationwide. UCLA allowed activists to set up an encampment that enforced a “Jew Exclusion Zone,” stopping Jewish students and faculty from accessing the encampment and other parts of campus unless they agreed to disavow Israel’s right to exist. The activists used checkpoints, issued wristbands, built barriers, and often locked arms to prevent Jews from passing through. For a week, UCLA’s administration was aware of these practices and chose to let them persist. In fact, rather than clearing the encampment, UCLA instructed security staff to discourage unapproved students from attempting to cross through the areas blocked by the activists. 

“If masked agitators had excluded any other marginalized group at UCLA, Governor Newsom rightly would have sent in the National Guard immediately,” said Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of Becket. “But UCLA instead caved to the antisemitic activists and allowed its Jewish students to be segregated from the heart of their own campus. That is a profound and illegal failure of leadership.” 

Activists 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 accessing the library and other public spaces. He also heard chants at the encampment like “death to Jews.” Eden Shemuelian, another law student, had her final exam studies severely compromised when she was forced to walk around the encampment and immerse herself in its antisemitic chants and signs to access the law school’s library. The students are asking the court to ensure that Jews will never again face such antisemitic bigotry on UCLA’s campus.  

“This is America in 2024—not Germany in 1939. It is disgusting that an elite American university would let itself devolve into a hotbed of antisemitism,” said Rienzi. “UCLA’s administration should have to answer for allowing the Jew Exclusion Zone and promise that Jews will never again be segregated on campus.”

In addition to the Becket Fund, the students are also represented by Clement & Murphy, PLLC.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219.