Goffstown Woman Defends Palestine
Cicciu, along with a group of about thirty, including a woman from Laconia, traveled to the Middle East in May to see living conditions in Palestine firsthand. It was her second trip there; the first was in 2009.
“We find often that the media doesn't give an accurate – or any – coverage of the situation,” Cicciu said. “People have no idea of how much suffering is going on over there.”
According to Cicciu, Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967 has left Palestinians “poorer and poorer,” and is urging the United States to limit its military aid to Israel.
"The US gives Israel three billion dollars a year in military aid,” Cicciu said. “It gives Palestinians nothing.”
The Palestine Cicciu described is bleak. Many villages have no water or electricity, Cicciu said, because Israel is attempting to limit utilities in order to drive Palestinians away.
During her visit, her group did not shower because they were told that Palestinians had such a limited water supply.
“People there only had access to water, maybe if they were lucky, three days a week,” she said. “The demand for water is bigger than ever.”
Interfaith Peace-Builders and other groups like it are making an attempt to help Palestinians rise above their circumstances.
Cicciu said there are Israelis who are helping the cause, who are unhappy with their own government.
On her May trip, Cicciu said the group met an Israeli physicist who is showing Palestinians how to make use of solar panels to generate electricity. Currently, Cicciu said much of the electrical grid is owned and controlled by Israel, and won't give Palestine access to it.
“They think if they make life difficult enough, it will force them (Palestinians) to leave the land,” she said.
Still, Ciccu said it's important to teach Palestinians how to survive on their own.
“You can't just give them a handout, you have to empower them,” she said.
Despite their poverty, Cicciu said she found the Palestinians she visited with to be warm and friendly.
“They gave us the best that they had,” she said. “They're portrayed as terrorists, but they aren't at all.”
Cicciu said she is hoping that the United States will reconsider how much military aid it provides to Israel, and feels that US dollars could be better used to address issues here at home, such as healthcare, education and infrastructure.
“Why should we be sending money to a country that is enslaving a people?” she said. “We make it too easy for Israel to follow a military solution when they don't get their way.”
Cicciu writes to Senator Kelly Ayotte each day to express her concerns about Palestine, and said she is disappointed with Ayotte's position.
“I think she's lost her humanity because she's so fixed on this military budget,” Cicciu said.
According to Ayotte's office, the Senator has responded to Cicciu's letters on eight occasions.
“Senator Ayotte respects Ms. Cicciu's genuine dedication to this issue and has welcomed hearing her views,” said Ayotte's Press Secretary Liz Johnson. “The Senator depends on hearing from Granite Staters about the issues they care about – and she considers that dialogue a top priority.”
But Ayotte's position on the issue differs greatly from Cicciu's.
“Israel is our closest and most reliable ally in the Middle East, and Senator Ayotte believes that U.S. assistance to Israel is vital to our national security interests – particularly given ongoing instability and conflict in the region,” Johnson said.
Cicciu plans to continue her efforts.
“I don't even look at this as a religion issue, I look at it as a human rights issue,” she said. “I've always been an advocate for human rights.”
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