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April 1, 2022 3:03 pm

Beinart Is Back at New York Times With Column Assailing Defense Contractor Work as Unethical

avatar by Ira Stoll


Peter Beinart. Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Beinart is back at the New York Times. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that, while Beinart lost his “contributing opinion writer” status, the Times has kept publishing the formerly-Zionist journalist’s articles at pretty much the same steady pace as it did before.

Beinart has been described by the Times itself as “perhaps the community’s prime apostate… once a hawkish New Republic editor who now favors a single binational state — rather than a Jewish nation-state — an observant Jew who during the conflict in May made his call for Israel to permit the full return of Palestinian refugees in the name of teshuvah, the atonement required of all Jews every year before Yom Kippur.”

Since April 28, 2021, when The Algemeiner reported that the New York Times was stripping Peter Beinart of his “contributing opinion writer” status and downgrading his work to the opinion page category of “guest essay,” Beinart has published in the New York Times just about as frequently.

Between October 6, 2020, when he was promoted to “contributing opinion writer,” and April 28, 2021, when the Times made its “bye-bye Beinart” announcement, Beinart had six articles in the Times — a rate of nearly one a month. In the 11 months since then, he’s published an additional seven New York Times articles, and in that same span he’s also been quoted as a source in at least one Times article and cited as an authority in at least two others. It’s about as much Beinart as before he went “bye-bye.”

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When Times editorial page editor Kathleen Kingsbury cut back the list of contributing opinion writers, she claimed that “a smaller roster of regular contributors will allow space for even more outside views.” Alas for Times readers, in Beinart’s case, no such luck.

Beinart’s latest contribution is a “guest essay” that seems to claim that it is unethical for public servants to have work experience in the defense industry. He writes:

Many of President Biden’s top foreign policy aides did spend their years between government service at either consulting firms funded by defense contractors or think tanks funded by defense contractors. Few politicians acknowledge how unethical that is…. Ms. [Tulsi] Gabbard and Mr. [Tucker] Carlson have identified a genuine problem: the corruption and lack of accountability that plague American foreign policy.

Beinart doesn’t explain why it is unethical or corrupt for someone to work for a defense contractor or for a think tank funded by a defense contractor. Who does Beinart think made the weapons that the Union army used to free the slaves, that the Allies used to defeat the Nazis in World War II, or that the US used to capture Osama bin Laden? Who does he think makes the weapons that are protecting the Baltics and Poland from being captured by Vladimir Putin’s Russia along with eastern Ukraine?

He’s on record calling Zionism a mistake, so perhaps he prefers that the weapons protecting the existence of Israel were never manufactured. Does that include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Patriot, and Arrow defensive systems that protect Israeli civilians from incoming terrorist missile and rocket attacks?

Is it less ethical to work for a think tank funded by a defense contractor than, like Beinart, to work for a think tank funded by Alex Soros? Beinart earned $183,797 from the City University of New York in 2020, according to state payroll records available from the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY.net website. Also in 2020, he received and had forgiven a $20,999 Paycheck Protection Program loan for “independent artists, writers, and performers,” according to a ProPublica database. Why would earning a living that way be any more ethical than working for a company that makes weapons used to protect American or Jewish lives?

I’m sympathetic to concerns about the revolving door between the private sector and government service. And I share the prophetic vision that eventually swords will be beat into plowshares. Until that messianic moment, though, I am grateful to be protected by a well-armed army, and I don’t think it’s inherently unethical or corrupt to work for a military contractor.

Regardless of whether the Times labels it as “contributing opinion writer” or “guest essay,” Beinart is delivering readers the same illogical dreck.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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