Journal of Law and Policy


Gavriella Fried


On U.S. college campuses, Palestinian rights activists who are critical of Israel risk legal consequences. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program receiving federal funds. Over the past two decades, at least eighteen Title VI complaints have been filed against U.S. colleges and universities, alleging that Palestinian rights activists’ political expression is a form of anti-Semitism. In December 2019, President Trump promulgated Executive Order 13,899, which formally extended Title VI protections to Jews and directed enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism using guidance that includes “criticism of the state of Israel” as a form of anti-Semitic discrimination. This Note traces the history of Palestinian student activism, distinguishes anti-Semitism from criticism of Israel, and explores the tension between Title VI and campus free speech protections. Analyzing the ramifications of the executive order on the Title VI analysis, this Note argues that the executive order must be rescinded to deter the use of Title VI as a means of restricting campus free speech.