Reprinted from Wallwritings
Former President Jimmy Carter has concluded his trip to the West Bank area of Palestine. He "deeply regretted" that he was unable to visit the Gaza enclave of Palestine.
President Carter traveled with former Norway Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. It was their fourth Elders' mission to Israel and Palestine since 2009.
The two Elders were prevented for security reasons from seeing for themselves, in Carter's words, "Gaza's 1.8 million people [who] are besieged, isolated and desperate."
As the occupying military power controlling both Gaza and the West Bank, Israel offered no explanation as to why it could not provide adequate security for Carter and Brundtland.
Had the Elders gone into Gaza, they would have spoken directly to Gaza mothers like the one who wrote to British author Stuart Littlewood:
"I'm from that hell called Gaza. Extreme poverty, unemployment and insecurity destroy life and future of people who can hardly survive... It is difficult for us to live or to leave. Gaza, my beloved home, is like a curse!"
The injustice in Gaza and the West Bank is, indeed, a curse. It is a curse President Carter knows all too well. He grew up in the segregated state of Georgia, the same state that Martin Luther King, Jr., called home.
Dr. King lived and died confronting the curse of segregation in the American South.
His letter from the Birmingham jail is a vivid witness of his frustration and grief over the failure of white southern clergy leaders to give support to peaceful street demonstrations against that curse.
The evil of injustice in Gaza is an especially insidious evil because it is largely ignored by those in a position to confront it. It was the injustice in Gaza that brought Carter and Brundtland to Israel and Palestine.
It was the injustice and brutality of segregation in Georgia that led to King's presence in a Birmingham jail cell.
The letter he wrote from jail on April 16, 1963, was addressed to seven southern white clergy leaders who had signed a joint letter to ask him to reduce his agitation against segregation.
The report Jimmy Carter wrote after his trip to Israel/Palestine echoes that letter, for it too, was written in sadness and barely concealed anger.
Carter's report, like King's letter, tells a story of how one nation, Israel, with the support of the American government, degrades the humanity of an entire population.
King had gone to Birmingham, Alabama, to demonstrate against the evil of segregation. In his letter he wrote: