Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner leave after the Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP/SCANPIX
On January 12th, Aftenposten wrote in an article about Kushner that “the Jew Kushner reportedly pushed for David M. Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel”.
The Norwegian Jewish society Det Mosaiske Trossamfund (DMT) took offence to the wording and asked the newspaper to issue an apology.
“It is anti-Semitic when Aftenposten journalists believe that Kushner’s Jewish identity explains why he allegedly pushed to get Friedman as ambassador. This is a coarse generalization based on the myth that Jews have a different loyalty. The accusation that Jews have a different loyalty is an accusation that is hundreds of years old,” DMT head Ervin Kohn told Norwegian news source Minerva.
Aftenposten news editor, Tove Tveøy Strøm–Gundersen told the same source that the newspaper has sent an apology to the Jewish community.
“This is a term that has also been used in an anti-Semitic context. It was not our intention to create that kind of negative association. We've discussed this internally and concluded that it is right to apologize for the choice of wording,” she said.
Strøm–Gundersen added however that Aftenposten did not conclude that Kushner’s lobbying on behalf of Friedman was because he is Jewish but rather that his religion “is not uninteresting information for our readers”.
“When [conservative American politician] Rick Santorum fights for stricter abortion laws, we inform readers that he is a Catholic. When Donald Trump chooses to use his son-in-law as a player in the Middle East – and when one of the issues Kushner is reported as having been directly involved in was the appointment of a new Israeli ambassador – then it is natural to mention that he is an Orthodox Jew,” she said.
While Aftenposten issued an apology, rival newspaper Dagbladet said it saw no reason to regret its choice of wording in an article on Kushner in which the headline asked “what experience does he have besides being a Jew and married into the family?”
“It’s important to look at the context in which Jared Kushner’s religious affiliation was mentioned. Trump himself has made a number out of the fact that Kushner is Jewish, in part to position him as a friend to Israel, and has already set his Middle East policy high on his agenda,” Dagbladet editor Hilde Schjerve told Minerva.
“It has also been controversial that Trump has appointed his own son-in-law as responsible for the Middle East because Kushner lacks political experience and has previously given money to Israeli settlements – something that has helped to cast doubt on his ability to mediate peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Schjerve added.