Michael Abramowitz addresses Milken students about modern day genocide

Michael Abramowitz
Michael Abramowitz, speaking to students in the theater. Photo by Rachel Chistyakov.

Sophie Golub

News Editor

On April 14, as students prepared to embark on spring break, Michael Abramowitz, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s (USHMM) Committee on Conscience, spoke to Milken sophomores and juniors about the museum’s mission and modern-day genocide.

By serving as a living memorial to the holocaust, the museum intends to prevent history from repeating itself. Its mission is in educating and preserving the memories of the Holocaust and countering the argument that the Holocaust did not occur.

“The museum is more than a building,” Abramowitz said. “It was built by survivors of the Holocaust who wanted an institution that educated future generations. We honor those victims by trying to do what we can to assure that such crimes do not happen again.”

The purpose of the Committee on Conscience is to speak out on behalf of threatened people around the world, such as those in Bosnia and Rwanda. Their main focus right now is on the Sudan conflict.

“At any one time, a number of countries, one could say, are at the risk of genocide. However, genocide is actually rare,” Abramowitz said. “Sudan has been a big concern because of a pattern of war crimes against humanity. But, it’s also important to realize that things will surprise you, like Libya.”

As director of the committee, Abramowitz deals with modern examples of genocide. He traveled to South Sudan to learn and see what was going on so that he and his committee could then inform the USHMM visitors. He presented a video of a collection of first-hand accounts of current Sudanese victims from his trip to the Milken students.

Abramowitz discussed how to take action against genocides. He stressed that each student can make a difference, and advised them to visit and explore the USHMM’s website and take advantage of the resources offered.

Educating oneself and seeking accurate reporting in the media are the two most effective methods of countering genocide, he explained. Once a person is educated, educating others is the next step. After that, a person should raise the issues to elected officials. For those seeking to become even more involved, they should join advocacy groups against genocide, such as Jewish World Watch, the International Rescue Committee, or Oxfam.

When one student asked Abramowitz what the next step for Milken students is in the fight against genocide as a whole, he responded by saying that we must give refuge to people fleeing genocide.

Abramowitz noted that paying attention to the world and standing up to enemies before the conflict worsens are also critical in countering genocide.

To visit the USHMM’s website, click here: http://www.ushmm.org/