Election day for Israel’s 25th Knesset has arrived, and the fifth election campaign in less than four years is coming to an end. Although the repetitiveness is likely to lead to despair among some Israelis, we must all remember: exercising our right to vote is the most prominent expression of democracy in its simplest and most necessary sense—and we must not give up our right to be part of a process in which Israel’s sovereignty is realized before our eyes.
I call on the entire Israeli public, from all communities, sectors, beliefs and ways of life—to go out and vote and exercise your ability to influence our lives here.
Just as it is important that we all show up at the ballot boxes and choose the faction that reflects our views, it is important that we, the country’s citizens, show up and stand behind the democratic process as well. Each and every one of us, from all walks of Israeli society, must assist—and not harm, God forbid—the optimal implementation of this process, in all its stages, as well as those who carry it out.
Of course, it is no less important to honor the results of the election—whatever they may be. It is a fundamental obligation for us as a civilized society, the kind that not only creates common ground for us but also prevents chaos and anarchy.
Sadly, the months of the election campaign led to a disturbing increase in the extent of physical and verbal violence—in the field and on social media. Now is precisely the time to alter course, take a deep breath and adopt moderation, responsibility and respect.
We must not forget, even for a moment: those who think differently from us are not enemies. Those who support a party that represents views and opinions we disagree with are not traitors or fifth-columnists. True, disagreements are and will always be an integral part of the democratic landscape. Still, we must ensure that they are conducted in a respectable manner and give room to others and their opinions.
There are many complex challenges ahead of us, which will remain even after the polls are closed. Our experiences as a country have already taught us that our optimal ability to face any challenge depends on Israel’s solidarity and on seeing our common ground.
When we all go home, after having exercised our rights at the ballot box, and sit down in front of our televisions in anticipation of the election results, we must remember one thing: the most important choice is the one we make in ourselves, in what unites us, when there is so much that separates us.
Even after the election, we will return and choose to live here in partnership, believing that we have a promising and shared way to go together.
Isaac Herzog is the president of Israel.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.