More than 5.5 million Israelis are called upon to cast their votes today. This is not just their right, but their civic and political duty. Throughout modern history, nations have fought courageously and determinedly to obtain the right to vote freely and equally under the principle of one person, one vote. Yet even in the 21st century, only a minority of the world’s population can claim this privilege, and it dare not be taken for granted.

Israelis are being called upon to vote at a time when the country’s democracy faces real and present dangers. The right has proven that it intends to undermine the state’s social and governmental institutions. The right to vote is only one of the foundations of life in a democracy; other fundamental components are now under threat, including equal rights for all citizens, human rights, the judicial system, freedom of the press, and the right of citizens’ groups to operate unhindered. That’s why it’s particularly important to get out and vote today.

Even though this election campaign was characterized by evasion and avoidance of the real issues and challenges Israel faces, these issues cannot be ignored. Voting for the right-wing bloc indicates a preference for territories over peace, and for distorted versions of Zionism and Judaism over democratic values, even at a price of destroying true Zionism and suffering international isolation. Whoever opposes this vision of the future can choose from among the several centrist and left-wing parties, which have enough differences between them to enable anyone to identify and support those nuances that most speak to him.

What is clear is that Israel is facing a historic decision regarding its character. Strengthening parties that do not belong to the right-wing bloc, parties that are committed to a real diplomatic initiative and to democratic values, can head off the lurking threats.

The vote of every citizen who believes in the path of political Zionism and democratic values is crucial, and not casting it is a luxury we cannot afford. Whoever doesn’t bother to vote today, whether it’s because he can’t find a party that exactly matches his “wish list” or simply out of apathy, still influences the election − but in a negative way. He will be facilitating a result that contravenes his preferences and that endangers the State of Israel.