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U. Minnesota puts Holocaust center hire on hold amid criticism about anti-Israel comments

Scholar initially chosen for role says Israel is committing ‘genocide’

The University of Minnesota put a hiring decision for its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies on hold this week amid complaints its initial choice for the role accused Israel of “genocide.”

University interim President Jeff Ettinger announced the change Monday after two members of the center’s board resigned in opposition to its plan to hire Raz Segal (pictured) as the chair, The Minnesota Republic reports.

Ettinger said they put the hiring decision on hold “to allow an opportunity to determine next steps” after a number of university members “express[ed] their interest in providing perspective on the hiring.”

Segal is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. In an Oct. 13 op-ed in the Jewish Currents, he wrote Israel is committing “a textbook case of genocide” in Gaza.

The professor also criticized President Joe Biden for describing the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel as “an act of sheer evil.” Segal wrote the American’s and other political leaders’ “dehumanizing language is clearly calculated to justify the wide scale destruction of Palestinian lives.”

His op-ed and other comments were mentioned by the Holocaust center’s board members when they resigned.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

On Friday, Minnesota’s interim College of Liberal Arts dean, Ann Waltner, extended an offer to Segal to serve as the center’s chair, according to an internal email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The decision prompted immediate pushback from members of the center’s advisory board, with two members—French professor Bruno Chaouat and music professor Karen Painter—announcing their resignation from the board within hours.

In her resignation letter, Painter wrote Segal “has positioned himself on an extreme end of the political and ideological spectrum with his publications on Israel and Gaza, including an essay in which he accused Israel of genocide a week after the October 7 terrorist attacks,” according to the Republic.

“We need a center director who will bring our community together to understand how the Holocaust and other genocides occurred, not someone who blames Israel for the rape and murder of 1,200 civilians and kidnapping of hundreds more,” she wrote.

In Chaouat’s resignation letter, obtained by the Free Beacon, he questioned how the decision was made to hire Segal.

Chaouat, who previously served as interim director of the center, wrote Segal is “unfit” to serve in the role where the “core mission … is to educate locally and internationally on the specific history of the Holocaust and of genocides in order to raise awareness and prevent further dehumanization and violence.”

Segal “has failed to recognize the genocidal intent of Hamas,” Chaouat wrote.

The University of Minnesota is among dozens of universities that the Department of Education is investigating in response to antisemitism complaints.

MORE: Professors: U.S. a genocidal ‘settler colonial state’ that needs to be ‘dismantled’

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.