Connecting the Dots – Holocaust Education and Encouraging Peace

“Communication is inciting violence. How can we use it to incite peace?”

Yesterday at the South Florida Business Professional Advisory Committee meeting for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, we learned about a remarkable museum fellow named Rachel Bloom. Bloom is 25-years-old. She is currently working to prevent genocides with innovative text messaging communication strategies in international areas that the museum has identified as a potential future instance of mass atrocities. Hungary and Burma were cited as two places experts are currently concerned with today.

How we could apply these lessons to volatile communities in the U.S. to combat racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia to encourage peace?

History teaches us that mass atrocities are preventable. From the Holocaust to the genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica, and Darfur, early warning signs of mass violence went unheeded. The museum’s Early Warning Project offers a tool to alert policy makers and the public to places where the risk of mass violence is greatest.

Bloom is the author of Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech. You can download this guide and workbooks from the museum web site. The guide offers activists, religious and civil society leaders, and their supporters the strategies and tools they need to prevent dangerous speech from influencing audiences.

Prior to her fellowship, Rachel was the CEO of Sisi ni Amani-Kenya, a Kenyan NGO she founded to pioneer new strategies for building local capacity in peace-building and civic engagement, most notably through the creation of a text-messaging model and platform to support local community efforts. For this work, she was recognized as a 2012 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. (see video above.) She has also worked as a tenant organizer in Boston, Massachusetts, and as a consultant with organizations using technology for social impact, including Ushahidi, Internews, and Phandeeyar. She has a BA in international relations with a focus on global conflict cooperation and justice from Tufts University, where she conducted international research on the relationships between power structures, corruption, violence, and poverty.

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