Jewish students sue for court order to be safe from antisemitism at UCLA

(The Center Square) – Jewish university students are seeking a court order against what they call extremist pro-Palestine encampments that held anti-Jewish demonstrations at The University of California Los Angeles.

Becket Law brought the case.

“On behalf of three Jewish students, Becket attorneys asked a federal court late yesterday to order UCLA to obey the Constitution and federal civil rights laws by August 15 before they arrive on campus for the fall semester,” a news release from Becklet Law says.

The news release describes protestors involved in pro-Palestine encampments on UCLA grounds as “extremist students” and “outside agitators.” The release also gives examples of acts of antisemitism against Jewish UCLA students that occurred during these encampments.

Many protestors at the encampments “stopped Jewish students from accessing classes, the library, and other critical parts of campus,” according to the release.

People involved in these encampments on UCLA grounds also “targeted” Jewish students, according to the release.

Massive protests have been on the rise on college campuses nationwide over the Israel-Hamas War, which started on Oct. 7. There has also been a rise in antisemitism amidst many of these mass protests.

There has been a dramatic rise of antisemitism on college campuses, including “multiple reported incidents” on 59 college campuses, according to incident tracking data from Hillel International.

“In the month following the October 7 attack on Israel, Hillel International tracked a 700% increase in antisemitic incidents on college campuses compared to the same period last year,” according to data from Hillel International.

“​​In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, anti-Jewish demonstrations emerged on college campuses nationwide,” according to the release. “UCLA allowed activists to set up an encampment that enforced a “Jew Exclusion Zone,” stopping Jewish students 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.”

“The encampment did not come out of nowhere,” Attorney Laura Slavis of Becket told The Center Square. “The lawsuit and the complaint details months of antisemitic incidents that were occurring on campus, previous demonstrations with chants like ‘slaughter the Jews’, swastikas chalked on campus, vulgar graffiti.

“In the months since that initial encampment was dismantled, activist groups have set up numerous other encampments, over the course of May and as late as June 10, they were setting up similar attempts to occupy parts of campus with UCLA not attempting to prevent them,” Slavis said. “This is an ongoing problem that has basically been ongoing since October 7.”

“They actually facilitated this encampment existing by allowing the exclusion zone to continue,” Slavis added.

UCLA is not the only university that has seen acts of antisemitism occurring on campus this year. Many Ivy League schools have received poor marks for antisemitism this year on the Anti-Defamation League’s Campus Antisemitism Report Card, The Center Square previously reported.

“It’s appalling that an elite American university would actively support and encourage masked mobs of antisemites,” said Becket President Mark Rienzi in the release. “UCLA’s Jewish community needs to know that they’ll be safe on campus before the start of the fall semester.”

“UCLA has committed blatant constitutional and statutory violations of our clients rights and the rights of other Jewish students on campus,” Slavis told The Center Square. “And we are really hopeful that the court will see this for what it is, an absolutely unjustifiable attempt to exclude students on the basis of their religion from accessing parts of campus.”

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