Knesset plenum
Knesset plenumDanny Shemtov, Knesset spokesperson

Israel’s war again Gaza is going as planned. Many Israelis, however, would prefer a harsher campaign. They would love to find a way to obliterate Hamas ina fire-and-brimstone operation that future Arab generations will only speak about in hushed tones. Alas, Israelis can’t vote for that kind of fight, as the only party that would wage it was banned by Israel’s Supreme Court

I’m speaking about Kach, founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. If Kach were legalized and headed by a sober-minded, statesmanlike, but tough fighter, it could easily win anywhere from 10-30 seats in Israel today. Even if it didn’t immediately become the largest party in the Knesset, its very presence there would put enormous pressure on Netanyahu to finish the job.

But right now, Israelis can’t vote for Kach. The party is illegal.

Some may argue that the Right doesn’t need Kach. It can found a new party or appoint a Kahane-like figure to head one of the existing parties.

It won’t work. Why? Because, currently, anyone who has seeks to fill the Kahane vacuum inevitably censors himself in an effort to escape being banned. That means they can’t speak the plain truth, and if you can’t speak the plain truth, the masses won’t vote for you.

The existing parties won’t save Israel. The country needs roaring lions, and it needs to find them and lifting the Kach ban will inspire such lions to step forward. Right now, thousands of proud Israelis never even consider running for office because they know they’ll be branded racists and banned if they try. If the Kach ban is lifted, these Jews will rush forward to give the people a real alternative. Maybe under a different banner. It doesn’t really matter.

I personally believe a separation of the Jewish and Arab populations is the only recipe for long-term peace in Israel (as do leftists, incidentally, regarding Judea and Samaria, except that they want to expel the Jews whereas Rabbi Kahane wanted to help the Arabs leave).

But for the moment, I – and I assume almost every Israeli – would be ecstatic just to return to the Israel of 1974 or even 1984. An Israel in which rockets from Gaza didn’t rain down on cities. An Israel in which Jews could walk into Arab markets in the 'West Bank' without fear of being lynched. An Israel without a maze of bypass roads. An Israel where Hamas would not have dared to cross the border.

To return to such an Israel, though, requires teaching the enemy we mean business and that our values include winning a war we never wanted. No one who currently sits in the Knesset can perform this task. That’s why the ban must be lifted.

More fundamentally, though, the argument for ending the ban is simple: Israelis should be allowed to vote for whomever they wish. If they don’t want a Kahane-like figure in charge, they don’t have to vote for one. But they should at least be given the choice. Isn’t that what democracy is about?

In 2001, Ariel Sharon ran for prime minister. For decades, political pundits had declared him unelectable. He was too hawkish, they said. But the Second Intifada changed minds. Sharon won in the biggest electoral landslide in Israeli history (and then betrayed his voters).

Israelis want to crush Hamas and their supporters. Both rightists and leftists. They cannot stop thinking about the rapes, the burned babies, the tortured women. They’ve had enough. They want revenge – in the holiest sense of the word. Most will vote for a leader who reflects their inner rage.

But they can’t because such leaders aren’t permitted to run. It’s unconscionable. Particularly in the wake of October 7.

The ban on these leaders must be lifted.

Elliot Resnick, PhD, is the former chief editor of The Jewish Press, a podcast host, and the author/editor of seven books, including, most recently, “America First: The Story of Sol Bloom, the Most Powerful Jew in Congress During the Holocaust.”