A European rabbinical group is petitioning Apple to remove an app from the App Store that is anti-Semitic, according to The Jewish Press. The app, “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” is only available in Arabic and describes a supposed Jewish plot from 1903 to take over the world.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis in Brussels, said in a statement on Tuesday that he would contact Apple and attempt to persuade the company to remove the app. The calls to Apple were not answered right away.
The app was released earlier this year by Egyptian developer Innovation Group and accompanying the app is a statement that reads “according to many historians, these writings are a hoax.” There is nothing addressing the anti-Semitic themes of the text, but Goldschmidt said in a telephone interview with The Times of Israel that it’s being sold for $0.99 in a context which made it clear that it was aimed at “propagating hatred.”
The app details a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated. According to Goldschmidt, this is “the first mobile version of the famous anti-Semitic work,” which was first published in the early 20th century.
Goldschmidt, in an attempt to encourage academic study of such texts but eliminate its use for potential racist purposes, said, “Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable” and he warned that it could be “used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their racist agenda.”
In support of the rabbis’ call for Apple to remove the app, Israel’s information minister, Yuil Edelstein, said in a statement to the Associated Press that “They wouldn’t allow pedophillia and pornography on their networks; they shouldn’t allow xenophobia, anti-Semitism, or racism.”
This isn’t the first time Apple was called to remove an app due to religious views. In late 2010, Apple removed “The Manhattan Declaration” app from a conservative Christian organization of the same name. Initially approved with a 4+ age rating, the app was found to include anti-gay and anti-abortion messages and was removed by Apple for violating developer guidelines through its obvious offensive messages.
Compared to other competitors like Android, Apple does have pretty strict guidelines for its iOS and Mac App Stores. It remains to be seen, however, if Apple will remove “The Protocols” app now that attention has been brought to it.
Apps like this raise questions about censorship and what kinds of messages apps like this are sending. What do you think? Should Apple remove “The Protocols” from the App Store?