In response to "Im Tirtzu head admits: We spied on rights groups using private eyes" (Nir Hasson, Haaretz, January 18).

It is unfortunate that a nation that has undergone so much intolerance and cruelty over the ages has become so accepting of intolerance toward others. Im Tirtzu objected to being called fascist and sued left-wing activists for “hidden anti-Zionism.” It is quite obvious that Im Tirtzu has no idea of the meaning or significance of democracy as a way of life. Even a right-wing newspaper like Israel Hayom knew where to draw the line and not print evidence of that organization’s prying into the affairs of those helping to safeguard the democratic nature of rights organizations and those serving them.

Two previous examples of such interference in the dissemination of information in other societies come to mind. The first is that of 1930s Germany, where loyal German citizens were encouraged to tattle on their neighbors who were either Jewish or friendly with Jews. Children went to the authorities and incriminated their parents for such behavior. The second example is that of the McCarthy era in the United States. Even Labor Zionist organizations were on McCarthy’s list of subversive groups.

As is known, the German example only became worse, because the people involved did not realize or did not care about what was being done to their country. In the case of the United States, the people ultimately triumphed and got rid of someone who could have wreaked the same sort of havoc if he had been allowed to continue.

In true totalitarian fashion, Ronen Shoval gathered his information by snooping and spying. He is a private individual, who never received official permission to conduct his investigations and was never officially instructed to carry out any of this work.

The question facing all of us is: Will the people prevail in this country and assure the democratic future of the Jewish state by preventing and punishing such behavior? If not, we can say good bye to all our dreams of solving the Jewish question and admit failure as a nation.

Deborah Nothmann

Haifa