updated 01:20 am EDT, Wed August 15, 2012
Controversial 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' in app form
The Conference of European Rabbis, representing Orthodox Jewish congregations, is petitioning Apple to remove a mobile app version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The work is a a historical -- but completely fictional -- "exposé" on a secret Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The group says that making the text available in this form makes it more likely that it would be misused by conspiracy theorists and bigots.
Egypt-based developer Innovation Group does include a disclaimer that the contents of the application have been described as "a forgery," but does not disavow the work's anti-Semitic nature. The Rabbinical group's leader, Pinchas Goldschmidt, admits the text of the book should be available to academics to study in its proper context, but "to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable."
Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein said Apple shouldn't allow such material on the iTunes market. "They wouldn't allow pedophilia and pornography on their networks," he told The Associated Press. "They shouldn't allow xenophobia, anti-Semitism or racism." Apple has a policy preventing racist, intolerant, or discriminatory content on the App Store, at Apple's sole discretion.
As an example, the "Manhattan Declaration" application authored by an ultra-conservative Christian group was rejected by Apple content monitors (after public pressure over its initial approval), as the app would "expose a group to harm" and the intent of the app was to be "objectionable and potentially harmful to others."
Another example is the "Jew or Not Jew" database application purged from the French App Store for violating Apple guidelines on acceptable application content. Specifically, applications must be legal in the country in which they is sold. While books and songs are lightly curated, Apple has granted itself the power to reject apps "for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line," which it acknowledges is a subjective matter.
The Protocols, which began circulating in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, purports to lift the lid on a secret Jewish conspiracy to take power from non-Jews. The publication has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, but it endures as a staple of anti-Semitic rhetoric among neo-Nazis and other anti-Jewish extremists.