Israeli Apartheid week is held in many universities in the U.S. and Europe, and the Palestinian issue looms large in the public imagination of both continents. From my understanding of the issue, the Israelis did not actually drive out the Palestinians from their homes in 1948 (except for a few strategic spots), but the Palestinians left because they were worried about being in a war zone. Foreign newspaper men who covered the war of 1948 on both sides did, indeed, write about the flight of the Arabs, but even those most hostile to the Jews saw nothing to suggest that it was not voluntary.
Monsignor George Hakim, then Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, the leading Christian personality in Palestine for many years, told a Beirut newspaper in the summer of 1948, before the flight of Arabs had ended:
“The refugees were confident that their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two. Their leaders had promised them that the Arab armies would crush the ‘Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.” [Sada at Tanub, August 16, 1948]
So what the Israelis were guilty of really is not letting the refugees back in, once the war was over.
The Israelis’ position (of not letting the refugees back in) can be partly understood, because the Arab brothers of the Palestinians had just invaded and tried to destroy them, one important Arab saying the massacre of the Jews would go down in history like the crusades.
Now we could take an extreme pro-Arab position, and say that the Jews had no right to be in “Palestine” and the Palestinian refugees’ descendants should return to their homes, and the Jews should leave.
If we do that though, we have to be consistent. If we are angry at the Jews for the Palestinian dispossession, (approximately half a million people dispossessed), then we should be at least as angry at the Indians and the Pakistanis. When Britain gave the subcontinent independence:
“The partition of India was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj. It resulted in a struggle between the new states of India and Pakistan and displaced up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire, with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million.”
In addition we should be angry at the Russians and allies since at the later stages of World War II, when the Nazis were losing, there was the forced movement of Germans involving a total of at least 12 million people from Eastern Europe.
But my guess is, none of the protesters at “Israeli Apartheid” events care very much about either of these events, or harbor animosity to the people that caused the flight of millions of refugees. Its true that in these two cases, the refugees were absorbed by host countries, whereas in the case of the Palestinians some ended up perpetually in refugee camps, but I’m just trying to make a point that some huge forced movements of people have occurred, and nobody loses any sleep over them.
In fact, nobody loses any sleep over human rights abuses in areas where the Palestinians have (or did have power). One example is Lebanon. Here is what a Lebanese Christian, Brigitte Gabriel says they did: “When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians, city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17, without electricity, eating grass to live, and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water.”
When is the last time you have seen protesters against this sort of thing at your local campus?
For a view of a conservative Israeli who lived through the Palestinian dispossession: http://www.shmuelkatz.com/Articles/BattlegroundFactandFantasyinPalestine.pdf
For Wikipedia articles on the dispossession of the Germans and the Hindus/Moslems in the subcontinent: