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In France, Apple yanks Jew or not Jew app

September 15, 2011 |  2:28 pm

Getprev After outrage from activists and religious groups, Apple Inc. has removed an app called Jew or not Jew from its App Store in France, stirring up more debate about the company's content guidelines.

The app asks users to identify whether a French politician or other celebrities are Jewish. Apple pulled the app after several anti-racism and Jewish groups objected, citing French laws that ban the identification of a person's religion without their consent or compiling data about people's religious beliefs.

"This app violates local law and is no longer available in the app store in France," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told the Wall Street Journal.

The app is still for sale in other countries, including the U.S., where it's priced at $1.99. The app's iTunes page describes a feature that allows users to search for a movie to see "all the Jewish actors, directors, producers, etc...that were involved in the movie!"

"Hey, did you know that Bob Dylan is Jewish?" goes the description. "Of course I did! But was Marylin Monroe really Jewish? And what about Harrison Ford?"

Apple has been alternately accused of allowing apps into its store that some groups deem questionable and of applying its content guidelines with too heavy a hand. Developers with apps rejected or ejected from the App Store have complained that the approval process is arbitrary and harsh.

Earlier this week, an iPhone game called Phone Story appeared in the App Store before getting yanked some hours later. The game, meant to explore the nasty underside of the consumer electronics industry, depicted child labor, environmental waste and worker suicides (the latter a clear nod toward suicides by workers at Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner in China).

Johann Levy, the developer behind Jew or Not Jew, told the Wall Street Journal that he is Jewish himself and never had any racist intentions behind the app.

"I often ask myself whether this or that celebrity is Jewish or not," Levy told the paper. "I believe it's a question that many Jews ask themselves too."

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-- Shan Li

Image: Screen shot of the Jew or not Jew app in iTunes. Credit: J Soft via iTunes

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