Last night, Apple removed the controversial “The Third Intifada” app from its App Store, just one week after it first went online. The free app provided news about forthcoming Palestinian protests as well as pinpointing other anti-Israel articles and information on the web. Some of the activities it highlighted demanded violence against Israel.
On Monday Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs asking him to remove the App. “I believe Apple, as a pioneering and progressive company, places the values of liberty, freedom of expression and creativity as a guiding light,” Edelstein wrote. “Also, as a leader in its area, I am convinced that you are aware of this type of application’s ability to unite many toward an objective that could be disastrous.”
Edelstein’s letter also called attention to a Facebook page started by the same group three months ago, which (after he made a similar appeal) was removed by Facebook because of the violence and harmful activity it championed.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that seeks to combat anti-Semitism, also issued a complaint to Facebook months ago and on Monday released a statement calling for Apple to remove “The Third Intifada” app. Associate dean of the Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper was quoted in the statement: “‘Dissent, dialogue yes, but the leading new media and technology companies should not be facilitating entities with a track record of promoting incitement and violence.”
Last night the New York Times reported that an Apple spokesman explained the company’s actions, saying, “We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.” Section 19 of Apple’s App Store policy forbids apps that contain defamatory or mean-spirited material about religious, cultural, or ethnic groups or that are likely incite violence against such groups.