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University of Minnesota rescinds offer to academic who alleged Israel was committing ‘genocide’

Raz Segal had been tapped to head the public university’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Anti-Israel activists chant during a rally after the University of Minnesota's campus police cleared the Gaza Solidarity Encampment

A professor who wrote days after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks that Israel’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza was “a textbook case of genocide” has had his offer to head University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies revoked after two members of the center’s advisory board resigned in protest last Friday and several Jewish leaders voiced their concerns.

Jeff Ettinger, the interim president of the University of Minnesota, said during a Friday morning Board of Regents meeting that Joe Eggers, the interim director of the center, would remain in the position as a new director search is conducted. Ettinger noted that the search process may extend until 2025 or 2026. 

The official withdrawal of Raz Segal’s job offer came after a pause was announced on Monday amid increased scrutiny of Segal’s comments on Israel, Jewish Insider was first to learn. 

“The assault on Gaza can also be understood in other terms: as a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes,” Segal, an Israeli associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University in New Jersey, wrote in the Jewish Currents on Oct. 13, days after Hamas launched a terror attack in Israel that killed more than 1,200 people. “I say this as a scholar of genocide, who has spent many years writing about Israeli mass violence against Palestinians,” he wrote.

Segal co-authored an Al-Jazeera article in January in which he called Israel a “settler-colonial” power. Last month, Segal downplayed the anti-Israel encampments that appeared on campuses nationwide — some of which have turned violent — telling NJ Spotlight News that claims of antisemitism were “baseless.” 

Nine people were arrested at the encampment at the University of Minnesota.

In 2022, Segal wrote about “the reality of the system of Israeli apartheid,” stating that “just as the Israeli apartheid system denies Palestinians’ past, it also seeks to deny their future through an assault against Palestinian children.” 

Segal did not respond to multiple requests for comment from JI. 

The selection of Segal — which also would have given him a faculty position in the history department — prompted University of Minnesota professors Karen Painter and Bruno Chaouat to resign from the center’s advisory board. 

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas also pushed for the revocation of Segal’s appointment. In a statement on Monday, the group called on “members of the community to continue voicing their opposition to the appointment of Professor Raz Segal to be the next Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.”  

“The work of the center, which has been a close ally of the JCRC and our Jewish community for decades in preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and honoring its survivors and their families, is too important to be led by an extremist,” the JCRC statement said. “The next Center Director must be a unifying and not divisive figure.” 

Rebecca Feinstein, the daughter of Stephen Feinstein, who founded and directed the center, said the Feinstein family “wholly supports the decision made by Interim President Ettinger to delay the search for the Stephen C. Feinstein Chair in Holocaust and Genocide Studies until the 2025-2026 academic year. We are grateful for the President’s highlighting that the position to direct the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies entails a community facing, leadership role of deep importance to the Jewish and Zionist community.”

Her father, Feinstein added, “would have been appalled and outraged if the University of Minnesota had hired someone like Raz Segal, who, according to Segal’s statements, appears to not believe in the existence of the democratic Jewish State of Israel and does not support the values of the mainstream Jews.”

Feinstein called on the university to “continue to engage their multiple community stakeholders in the hiring process, particularly from the mainstream Jewish and Zionist community.”

On Monday, a spokesperson for the University of Minnesota told JI that the director selection process was put on hold “to allow an opportunity to determine next steps.” 

“Members of the university community have come forward to express their interest in providing perspective on the hiring of the position of Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies,” the spokesperson said. “Because of the community-facing and leadership role the director holds, it is important that these voices are heard.”

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