Wed 12 Jun 2024 8:58 pm - Jerusalem Time

The University of Minnesota stops hiring a professor who described Israel's war on Gaza as a war of extermination

The University of Minnesota has temporarily suspended the appointment of a professor who wrote that "Israel's military operation against Hamas in Gaza after October 7 is a systematic case of genocide" from heading the university's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS), Jewish Insider has learned. .

The suspension, which the university has not yet publicly announced, came Monday evening (June 10) after two members of the center's advisory board resigned in protest on Friday.

“The attack on Gaza can also be understood in other terms: as a case of genocide,” Raz Segal, an Israeli associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University in New Jersey, wrote in Jewish Currents, a liberal American Jewish magazine, on October 13, 2023. A collective unfolding before our eyes.” He added, "I say this as a genocide researcher who has spent many years writing about Israeli mass violence against Palestinians."

According to a University of Minnesota spokesperson, the director selection process has been suspended to allow the opportunity to determine next steps.

The spokesperson told Jewish Insider: “Members of the university community have come forward to express their interest in offering their views on the appointment of director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Given the role of such an official, it is important that these voices be heard.”

Segal, who was selected as the center's new director by Anne Waltner, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, also co-wrote an article for Al Jazeera in January in which he described Israel as a "settler colonial state." Last month, Segal pointed to the legitimacy of anti-Israel demonstrations and camps that have swept across universities across the country, and denounced them as anti-Semitic, saying that allegations of anti-Semitism by these demonstrations were “baseless,” which prompted multiple Israeli lobbies to target him.

In 2022, Segal wrote about “the reality of Israeli apartheid,” saying: “Just as the Israeli apartheid regime denies the Palestinians’ past, it also seeks to deny their future by abusing Palestinian children.”

Segal's selection — which also includes a faculty position in the history department — prompted University of Minnesota professors Karen Painter and Bruno Choate, known to be staunch supporters of Israel, to resign from the center's advisory board.

Jewish Insider, a website devoted to issues affecting the American Jewish community, says, “In a letter to Waltner, Brigadier General Rachel Croson and Interim President Jeff Ettinger (a copy of which was obtained by Jewish Insider), Choate wrote: My understanding is that the center’s primary mission is Educating locally and internationally about the specific history of the Holocaust and genocide in order to raise awareness and prevent further dehumanization and violence Professor Segal, through his justification of Hamas atrocities five days after they occurred (through outlandish claims that Israel is committing genocide), does not. "It can fulfill the center's mission."

Choate, a professor of French and Jewish studies who previously served as the center's interim director, continued in his letter, "[Segal] has failed to acknowledge the genocidal intentions of Hamas. He does not understand that a movement like Hamas is inherently fascist and represents precisely what the CHGS stands against." ...While I have nothing to say about Professor Segal's appointment as a Fellow in the Department of History, my experience as interim and collaborating director of the Center for many years, combined with my experience as a Holocaust and anti-Semitism scholar, gives me some experience to firmly classify him as unsuitable for this position.”

The website credits Mark Rothenberg, vice president and general counsel of Hillel International, the Zionist student and academic affairs organization, (who was general counsel and faculty member at the University of Minnesota for 20 years before coming to Hillel), saying that Segal's announced appointment "led to "Severe deterioration in the academic integrity of the department."

He continued: "It is very sad to see the Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies led by an anti-Israel preacher instead of a leading researcher on the history of the elimination of European Jews."

Rothenberg claimed that the announced appointment could "cause long-term damage" to the relationship between the University of Minnesota and the Jewish community in Minnesota. “The Jewish community there has benefited greatly from and enhanced the quality of the university over many decades,” he said, but, “I fear the relationship is under severe strain at the moment.”

Multiple Israeli lobby organizations use blackmail and bullying tactics to “neutralize” anyone who criticizes Israel and its actions against Palestinians, especially Jewish voices.


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The University of Minnesota stops hiring a professor who described Israel's war on Gaza as a war of extermination