I love stories of betrayal (even though from a rational perspective, there is no such thing, we use the word for when people important to us have different priorities from what we expected, e.g., if your wife commits adultery, she’s not betraying you, she’s simply acting on different priorities than what you expected).
As Robert J. Avrech wrote in the foreword to my book, Yesterday’s News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism:
Betrayal fascinates Luke Ford. It’s his life.
Luke betrayed his father, a prominent Seventh Day Adventist minister, when Luke converted to Judaism.
Luke betrayed his second “father” when he sacrificed his friendship with Dennis Prager to work on an unauthorised biography of his hero.
Luke betrayed Judaism when he became lukeford.com, the preeminent journalist covering LA’s sordid, mob-infested porn industry. Luke betrayed his Orthodox synagogue when he lied about his work and told the rabbi that he was a “freelance journalist who writes about crime for a Japanese magazine.”
Damon: “What about trust? I think we should expect more from those we’re closest to. Also, what if these acts of ‘priority’ are taking place behind your back? Doesn’t that bolster the perception of betrayal?”
It’s just emotionally charged language to deal with the uncomfortable reality that different people have different interests that constantly clash. That’s why all relationships are often frustrating and painful. There’s no betrayal. All we should expect is that people will pursue their interests and those interests will always differ at times from our own. If I take your wife, am I betraying you? No, I am just pursuing my interests and those interests clash with yours.
If you identify as a Jew or as a Christan, your primarily loyalty may be to other Jews or Christians, not to your country.
That may look like betrayal but it simply Jews being loyal to Jews, Christians being loyal to Christians, just like Muslims are often loyal to Muslims and Chinese are often loyal to Chinese. Almost every group is tribal except for Anglos.
All of the American scientists who gave nuclear secrets to Stalin were Jewish. Around the same time, Stalin became paranoid that Soviet Jews had more loyalties to the Jewish state than to Mother Russia.
From the book Exploring Intelligence Archives: Enquiries Into the Secret State: “Many Jewish scientists — among them some of the greatest names in Soviet science — worked in secret scientific institutions. Targeting such would-be emigrants for recruitment promised to yield intelligence directly relevant to American defence at a time when the Reagan administration was conducting a furious arms race with the USSR. Certainly the KGB feared such recruitments. Even though he seemed to have no evidence to this effect, Yuri Andropov, when its chairman in the 1970s, steadfastly maintained to the East German foreign intelligence chief Markus Wolf that the ‘refusnik’ Anatoly Sharansky — a computer scientist in a research institute — was a CIA spy. It was owing to his work for this institute that he was denied permission to emigrate to Israel in 1973.”
I find this article in the Washington Post thrilling: “How the CIA ran a ‘billion dollar spy’ in Moscow”
From CIA.gov: “Tolkachev commented a number of times to at least one of his case officers that the brutal treatment that his wife’s parents had suffered was a key factor in his motivation to work against the Soviet regime. He never shed any light on why the authorities had taken these actions against his wife’s parents, but once suggested that his wife and her parents were Jewish. Given the Stalinists’ anti-Semitism, this factor may have played a role in their persecution.”
From the book The Main Enemy: The Inside Story Of The Cia’s Final Showdown With The KGB: “…Tolkachev never told his CIA handlers whether he or his wife was Jewish.”
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
JOHN GUILSHER, as the CIA field officer in Moscow, handled one of the West’s greatest espionage coups of the Cold War in the classic traditions of the spy trade.
The CIA almost blew its chance to recruit the specialist engineer Adolf Tolkachev in the late 1970s, but once he had been recruited, Guilsher’s professionalism and bravery helped build a bond that yielded military secrets of incalculable importance.
Tolkachev provided details of the research and development of the radar systems for the Soviet’s front-line fighters from the MiG-29 and MiG-31 to the Sukhoi Su-27, as well as for cruise missiles and avionics.
His secret revelations more than matched the importance of another “volunteer” spy, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky of the Soviet military intelligence service, who provided the CIA with key information in 1960.
Tolkachev’s secret treasure trove was almost stillborn: five times from January 1977 to February 1978 he approached cars with US diplomatic licence plates in Moscow, begging to speak to an American. Ironically, the first car he approached at a petrol station belonged to the CIA’s Moscow station chief, who ignored the Russian, fearing he was a KGB agent sent to entrap Americans.
But the persistent Russian – resentful of the Soviet Union’s earlier treatment of his Jewish parents – kept returning, each time revealing more about himself, indicating that he had information about Soviet weapon systems. Finally, the CIA assigned Guilsher, a Russian-speaking officer, to make contact.