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It is easy to imagine the uproar that would have arisen if billboards reading "Disengage from Umm al-Fahm" had been posted by the Yesha Council of settlements, and the murderer Eden Natan Zada had later committed his atrocity there, in the largest Arab city in Wadi Ara. How much would the television program "Hot Mishal" have paid for a recent video clip of a settler rabbi, speaking from a hidden grove in the dead of night, demanding that Israel "move the border to the other side of Umm al-Fahm, and let Umm al-Fahm residents get their national insurance payments, their unemployment and health benefits, from Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas]; let them apply to the unions there and strike there. Not here"? But the murderer chose Shfaram; the billboards were posted by the National Union party; and the statements were made by its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, in the full glare of the last Herzliya Conference.

"When I speak privately with many people, including on the left, they agree with me," the former minister said. "It's not bon ton, but it's the truth. And when we conducted surveys, you have to understand that 70 percent support these positions, including 100 percent of Labor Party voters and 100 percent of Shinui voters. Those who object are the 10 percent who constitute the extreme radical left among the Jews plus the 20 percent who are Arabs."

It seems that Lieberman exaggerated slightly. I personally know two or three Labor and Shinui voters who, if ordered to choose between taking away the citizenship of Israel's Arabs or taking away the citizenship of Lieberman and his ilk, would not choose Israel's Arabs. However, the idea of expelling the residents of Umm al-Fahm from the State of Israel goes far beyond the territory of the extreme right.

In an interview with the Ynet Internet site on May 12, 2002, which was enthusiastically reprinted by extreme right-wing Internet sites, Professor Asa Kasher was asked to give his opinion of the morality of a proposal that had recently been raised by MK Ephraim Sneh (Labor!), under which residents of the Triangle region would be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty in exchange for Israel's annexation of the large settlement blocs.

This philosopher, author of the Israel Defense Forces' code of ethics, was careful to reject the idea of "sending people into exile," but immediately noted that "Sneh's idea would not uproot anyone from anywhere. On the contrary: Instead of being a minority in another people's state, [Triangle residents] would become part of the majority in their own national state." Kasher explained that "there is a problem with maintaining [their] citizenship and there is a problem with taking away [their] citizenship." This expert in universal ethics made do with the diagnosis that the idea "is unacceptable as is, but is also not completely beyond the pale."

Demographic fears and the terrorist threat conceal a combination of racism and stupidity among many mainstream Israelis. If people were truly worried about maintaining a Jewish majority in the State of Israel, they could not accept the erection of a concrete wall along a route that perpetuates the annexation of the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

And if the fear of Israeli identity cards being exploited by terrorists were truly what guides them, they would be outraged by the route of the fence, which annexes 200,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites to Israel and separates them from the West Bank. While one hand is pushing the residents of Umm al-Fahm out, the other is drawing the residents of East Jerusalem in.

By consenting, even if only tacitly, to the idea of a population exchange, the liberal center and the left are partners in the process of the delegitimizing Israel's Arab citizens.

The decision by a large majority of the Knesset (including Amram Mitzna and Avraham Shochat of Labor and six MKs from Shinui) to deny compensation to Palestinians wounded in the intifada underscores the fact that five minutes from Umm al-Fahm, the lives of Arab women and children have no value.

Solid politicians and popular intellectuals who lend a hand - whether by commission or omission - to erasing the Green Line that, in the collective consciousness, distinguishes residents of the Triangle from their neighbors in the West Bank, are turning Israel's Arabs into enemies. They thereby draw a bloody line between Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of Hebron, and Eden Natan Zada, the murderer of Shfaram.