June 17, 2009
Local Resident Returns from Middle East

- Carolyn Cicciu, a retired High School teacher and resident of Goffstown, New Hampshire has just returned from a unique delegation to Israel and Palestine. Ms. Cicciu, along with 15 other participants from across the United States, landed in Tel Aviv on May 26 for the two-week trip through the conflict zone. 

Participants on the delegation had the unique opportunity to examine Israeli and Palestinian perspectives on President Obama’s plan to halt illegal Israeli settlement construction and restart stalled peace talks. Following recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, it is evident that Obama’s plan for peace faces an uphill battle. With the United States unwilling to halt military aid shipments, Israel has continued illegal settlement activity, incursions into Palestinian areas, and its system of checkpoints and other barriers to Palestinian movement and development. As a result, the situation on the ground continues to worsen.

The delegation returned from the region at the same time President Obama concluded his own Middle East trip. The delegates met with more than 13 Israelis and 14 Palestinians representing a wide swath of both societies. A special focus was on the work of nonviolent activists and other peace-builders working to create a better future for Israelis and Palestinians. 

Co-sponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) and the National Peace Foundation (NPF), this delegation was the 30th organized by IFPB since 2001, successfully educating approximately 450 North American citizens about the Middle East and deepening their understanding of its conflicts through eye-witness experiences.

Carolyn Cicciu taught English in Hollis/Brookline New Hampshire for 24 years before retiring in 2008. She was an active member of the teachers union, serving as Treasurer and Membership Chair. From 1997-2008, Ms. Cicciu was Recording Secretary for the New Hampshire Council of Teachers of English. She is also a member of the State Department of Education task committees for English certification and English teacher preparation, and an Instructor in the Connections program with the New Hampshire Humanities Council, providing literacy appreciation among new adult readers. 

In addition to her work in education, Ms. Cicciu has raised two sons as a single mother and participated in many community initiatives. She is a Co-founder and served as Secretary for the Greater Manchester Interfaith Council from 2003-2007; is a co-founder and current member of the steering committee for Women of Faith, an interfaith education initiative; is a member of the planning team and participant in the New England Pilgrimage for Peace; is a member of the advisory committee for the Community Spiritual Life Center in Goffstown, New Hampshire; is a new member of the Peace and Justice Task Force of the New Hampshire Conference, United Church of Christ; is a participant in the local library’s book discussion group; and is co-founder of the NH chapter of Pax Christi, the Catholic Peace Movement.

“This focused learning trip to Israel and Palestine has painted a different portrait than I’ve learned from the US media,” explains Carolyn Cicciu. “I saw humanity in the faces of Palestinians being squeezed into ghetto-like communities, humiliated by treatment at checkpoints, and treated unequally in the distribution of resources. I searched for humanity in Israelis who seem oblivious to their own recreation of the circumstances and experiences of their ancestors. Where is the humanity? I learned that each of us, alongside the majority of Palestinians, must respond with different expectations for our government and a more accurate portrayal of life in the occupied territories.”

Carolyn Cicciu looks forward to discussing her trip directly. She can be reached at 603-627-9473 or c.cicciu@comcast.net.

Ms. Cicciu is the third New Hampshire resident to join an Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to Israel and Palestine since 2006. Previous participants (including the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches and a former Director of New Hampshire Peace Action) may be available for interview upon request.



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