Only Jew-haters allowed in Berkeley city government

Hatem Bazian

Small world. In July of last year, we wrote here about Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies whose CV is, in addition, crowded with Islam-related activities: he’s the co-founder and provost of something called Zaytuna College for Muslim Studies; the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine; the founder of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Documentation of Islamophobia; and so on. He’s called for an intifada in the U.S., refused to condemn terrorism, and quoted with approval a line from the Hadith calling for the murder of Jews.

Yvette Felarca

Then, last April, we posted an account of Yvette Felarca, who is a Berkeley middle-school teacher by day and a violent “anti-fascist” radical during her free time. Our tale of Felarca’s adventures – including a riot that succeeded in shutting down a planned speech at the UC Berkeley by Milo Yiannopoulos – led us to a fellow by the name of Jesse Arreguin, who happens to be the mayor of Berkeley. Instead of criticizing the violence, Arreguin chose to criticize Yiannopoulos, whom he called (falsely) a “white nationalist.” Within the days that followed, it emerged that Arreguin was a member of the Facebook page of Felarca’s extremist group, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which the FBI and State Department consider a terrorist organization; that Arreguin and Felarca were Facebook friends; and that he had a pet cat named Che.

Jesse Arreguin

Recently, Bazian and Arreguin made the news – this time together. In November, Bazian was named to the Peace and Justice Commission of the city of Berkeley; and Arreguin, despite holding political views that are of the sort which usually imply anti-Semitism, opposed the appointment because of Bazian’s “anti-Semitic statements and actions.” Arreguin expressed frustration over the fact that he doesn’t have the power to prevent the appointment, which was the stratagem of City Council member Cheryl Davila.

Cheryl Davila

Having recalled Arreguin’s appalling support for BAMN’s destructiveness, we were frankly surprised by the intensity of his opposition to Bazian on the grounds of anti-Semitism. Arreguin pointed out a couple of crude anti-Semitic cartoons that Bazian retweeted last year, resulting in criticism by the UC Berkeley administration – that move surprised us, too – and an apology by Bazian.

Ben Gerhardstein

Why did Davila pick Bazian, of all people, for that commission? Apparently because, for her, his anti-Semitism isn’t a bug but a feature. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time that Davila has used her position to promote anti-Semitic ideas. In November of last year, she dismissed Transportation Commissioner Ben Gerhardstein “after he declined to state a position on whether Berkeley should divest from companies that do business with Israel.” According to a series of emails between Gerhardstein and Davila, she had indicated to him that his views on Israel and Palestine were important to her, despite their obvious irrelevance to the duties of his job; that, in fact, she was asking a number of potential commissioners about their opinions on the issue; and that she wanted a commission on which everyone supported divestment from Israel. Far from disputing any of these charges, Davila made a public statement that seemed to suggest she was fully within her rights to enforce an Israeli-Palestinian test on Berkeley commissioners and charged that anyone who made a big deal out of this action on her part was part of “the ongoing suppression campaigns to smear anyone who supports Palestine.”

Felarca redux: justice at last?

Yvette Felarca in her element

We first reported on Yvette Felarca on April 17. She’s a leader of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a gang of Trotskyite thugs – and associates of the Revolutionary Communist Party – who keep themselves busy by rallying, rioting, brawling, making noise, setting fires, breaking stuff, and, on occasion, engaging in activities that both the FBI and Defense Department have labeled acts of terrorism. She’s also a teacher at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in Berkeley, California.

What’s a radical without a bullhorn?

In June 2016, when white supremacists held a rally outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Felarca took part in a mass counter-protest that sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds and led to over 200 arrests. According to media reports, Felarca herself “shoved a man to the ground,” punched a man in the stomach, and yelled “Get the fuck off our streets.” She was arrested, and outraged parents of kids at her school called for her dismissal, but of course the school kept her on, with a BUSD spokesman explaining, “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”

Milo Yiannopoulos: genocidal lynch-mob racist?

So Felarca kept her Berkeley job. If anyone hoped she had learned a lesson from the parental complaints, that hope was dashed in February of last year when she and other BAMN members rioted and rampaged in Berkeley itself. Their goal was to shut down a planned speech by conservative Milo Yiannopoulos, whom they accused of trying “to shut up and put in our places women or Muslims or minorities” and “trying to assert their power, threaten us, intimidate us, rape us, kill us.”

In reality, Yiannopoulos is just a man with opinions who goes around giving speeches. He does not commit acts of violence. So far as we know, he has never threatened anyone or raised his hand against anyone, let alone tried to rape or kill. Felarca and her crew are the ones who act like savages. And that’s what they did in Berkeley that day – they destroyed property, threw stuff at cops, and, in fact, ultimately forced the cancellation of Yiannopoulos’s speech.

Jesse Arreguín, mayor of Berkeley and BAMN member

But Felarca still kept her job.

For anyone who knows Berkeley, the refusal of local officials to fire this dangerous Communist firebrand was not really all that surprising. As it turned out, indeed, the mayor of Berkeley himself, Jesse Arreguín, is a member of BAMN and a friend of Felarca’s.

Shortly after her big day in Berkeley, Felarca appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. On the show, she charged Yiannopoulos, a gay man (who, as it happens, is now married to a black man), with telling “racist, misogynistic, and homophobic lies,” with organizing “a movement of genocide,” and with stirring up a “lynch mob mentality.”

Felarca herself routinely commits actual violence, but here she was raising the spectre of lynching and genocide in her attacks on a man whose only weapon is his voice. In an apparent call for the suspension of the First Amendment, she insisted that Yiannapoulos needed to be “shut down.”

More on Thursday.

Berkeley’s mayor is a radical anarchist, too

Yvette Felarca

This week we’ve been examining the ugly antics of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a California-based “anti-fascist” group whose members carry out violent protests at which they behave like a bunch of fascists. We’ve been focusing especially on BAMN leader Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle-school teacher, and on the group’s successful attempt on February 1 last to close down a scheduled lecture by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, BAMN caused about $100,000 in damages on the UC Berkeley campus and about four or five times that much damage in downtown Berkeley.

Milo Yiannopoulos

One of the questions that were widely raised after BAMN’s Berkeley hijinks was why the police stood down during the whole thing. Videos taken in the midst of the violence showed Berkeley police officers standing nearby but staying completely out of it, allowing thugs to take over the city streets in which they are pledged to keep the peace. There was a total of one arrest. Police officers asked by reporters about their failure to intervene replied by suggesting that the matter be taken up with the mayor and chief of police. Obviously they had been ordered not to interfere with BAMN.

Arreguin being sworn in as a City Council member

Attention turned, then, to Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin, whose public response to the incident was to call Yiannopoulos – falsely – a “white nationalist” and to say that he was not welcome in Berkeley. Some very interesting answers have since emerged. On April 21, the Heat Street website reported that Arreguin is a member of BAMN’s Facebook page. Yes, that’s right: the mayor of Berkeley belongs to the violent anarchist group – a group identified by the FBI and State Department as a terrorist organization – that did hundreds of thousands of damage in his own city. He and Felarca are also Facebook friends. An activist interviewed by Heat Street described BAMN as being “like a cult.”

Arreguin and Che

As it happens, Arreguin’s entire career has been in local Berkeley politics. After attending UC Berkeley, he served on many local government boards, including the Rent Stabilization Board, from 2004 to 2008. For the next eight years, he was a member of the City Council. He has only been mayor since December 1, 2016. Arreguin’s own Facebook page, by the way, features a picture of him with his cat. The cat is named Che.

Yiannopoulos with Ann Coulter

Yiannopoulous isn’t the only speaker to have been targeted lately by the punks at Berkeley. Conservative author Ann Coulter, who has written a dozen or so New York Times bestsellers, was invited by the College Republicans and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to give a speech on campus. It was originally scheduled for today; campus officials, using the excuse of security concerns, canceled the event, but after an international outcry offered to let her give a talk on May 2, during a week known at Berkeley as Dead Week because everybody’s busy studying for final exams. Coulter insisted she would come today as planned; meanwhile the College Republicans threatened to sue the college if it didn’t come up with a suitable venue. Yesterday, however, Coulter announced that she would not be coming to Berkeley after all, because the College Republicans and YAF, also citing security concerns, had changed its mind about hosting her. “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away,” Coulter lamented.