U of Minnesota Hires Anti-Israel Extremist to Run Holocaust and Genocide Studies Institute

Within days of Hamas’ massacre of innocents in Israel, Professor Raz Segal was attacking Israel for committing genocide in Gaza. 

The war had barely started–in fact, Israeli troops hadn’t even entered Gaza when he published his piece accusing Israel in Jewish Currents. 

But the assault on Gaza can also be understood in other terms: as a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes. I say this as a scholar of genocide, who has spent many years writing about Israeli mass violence against Palestinians. I have written about settler colonialism and Jewish supremacy in Israel, the distortion of the Holocaust to boost the Israeli arms industry, the weaponization of antisemitism accusations to justify Israeli violence against Palestinians, and the racist regime of Israeli apartheid. Now, following Hamas’s attack on Saturday and the mass murder of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians, the worst of the worst is happening.

Raz had apparently rushed to his computer to write his piece accusing Israel of genocide before the dead Jews were buried–literally from the Hamas massacre to blaming Israel in mere days. 

Raz Segal is an associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University and soon to be the Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 

This is the man they picked. After October 7th. After he has been all over the media attacking Israel–not Hamas–as determined to commit genocide. 

Not everybody is happy about the choice, as you might imagine, but every Hamas-loving propagandist from Tehran to Rafah is laughing his ass off. 

Here’s how Segal describes the student protests–you know, the ones we have seen with our own eyes being filled with antisemites. 

NJ Spotlight News: It seems like a lot of U.S. campus administrators portray these pro-Palestinian student encampments across the country as antisemitic and as a threat, especially to Jewish students.

Raz Segal: I think that anyone who visits the many “Gaza Solidarity Encampments” now on campuses across the U.S. sees that these accusations are baseless. They’re actually absurd. The accusation that the encampments pose a danger to Jews and that they’re sites of antisemitism, as actually politicians in the U.S. across the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans, including President (Biden) himself have said — that’s absurd. 

We’re seeing university senior administrators turning against their students, turning against the core values of American universities, really of U.S. democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech. The students, on the other hand, very much believe in the core values of U.S. democracy. The students are there for a key purpose of turning our gaze back on an unfolding case of genocide that can only happen because their government and their universities support it very actively.

He is, of course, speaking of the very same students who glorify “anti-settler colonialist” violence, trash campuses, occupy buildings, destroy things, and chant glory to the martyrs. 

That such a man was hired to be the face of a Holocaust Studies center is an abomination. He is, of course, easy for antisemites to hide behind because he is nominally Jewish, but a man whose lifelong obsession is hating on Israel and whose first instinct after the October 7th massacres is to “contextualize” them, attack Israel as a settler-colonialist state, and accuse Israel of genocidal intent is an abomination. 

Thus, it is very on-brand for an academic institution. 

So far, two Center board members have resigned, and others have expressed their outrage. 

Two members of the advisory board of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies have resigned in protest over the planned hiring of the center’s new director.

Karen Painter and Bruno Chaouat both resigned Friday evening after learning that Raz Segal, a professor at Stockton University in New Jersey, had been offered the position by Ann Waltner, the interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which is where the CHGS resides at the university.

Segal has studied the Holocaust in the Carpathians and in Hungary, and focuses his study of the Holocaust as a result of the decline of empires and the building of nation-states in Europe. The focus on nation-states is a central theme in an argument Segal makes that the Holocaust is not unique compared to other genocides.

“Dr. 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,” Painter wrote in her Friday night resignation email to Provost Rachel Croson and Interim President Jeff Ettinger. 

“The CHGS director is ideally a scholar whose principal area of research and public commentary is the Holocaust itself, and certainly should not be an individual publicly identified with extremist positions on the present Middle East war,” she wrote. “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.”

What should we expect, though? That an academic institution not expend every effort in promoting anti-Western values? 

That’s naive, unfortunately. Academic institutions exist to undermine Western values these days. It is their mission in life, and Raz Segal is one of them. 

Segal isn’t a critic of Israel’s conduct in the war–he attacked Israel as engaged in genocide before the war really began. Whatever is happening in Gaza now, in all the messiness of war, is clearly irrelevant to him except to provide grist for his mill. 

He is committed to slandering Jews, destroying Israel, and asserting an equivalence between Israel defending itself and the Holocaust. There’s nothing shocking about this–there are plenty of such people, and no doubt he fits well in academia and the left. 

And that he is now going to run the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is nothing but a confirmation that academia needs a good housecleaning–one it will likely never get. 

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