'Jew or Not Jew' iPhone app axed by Apple

By Jennifer Lipman, September 15, 2011
Natalie Portman: players would be asked whether she was "Jew or Not Jew"

Natalie Portman: players would be asked whether she was "Jew or Not Jew"

Apple's French officials have removed from the online store an application which allowed users to guess whether someone was "Jew or Not Jew".

The decision was taken after a French anti-racism group criticised the app and suggested it violated France's laws against identifying people based on religion. SOS Racism threatened legal action if Apple did not comply and remove the app.

Under French law a violation of the prohibition could be punishable with a five-year prison sentence of a hefty fine.

However the app remains downloadable through Apple stores outside France.

The technology asked users to guess whether famous personalities – sports stars, actors and politicians – were Jewish and then provided the answer.

The developer, Johann Levy, told Le Parisien newspaper that the app was designed only for recreational use.

"I'm not a spokesman for all Jews," he said. "But as a Jew myself I know that in our community we often ask whether a such-and-such celebrity is Jewish or not."

He added that from his point of view there was "nothing pejorative" about identifying Jews. "On the contrary, it's about being proud."

"In France though I think many Jews prefer to stay hidden, trying very hard to avoid any attention.

"Unfortunately the word 'Juif' still has a negative connotation in France. People usually are a bit embarrassed to pronounce it.

"The most surprising part is the app has been called a 'dangerous weapon' by French anti-racism associations, some of them Jewish. Let's be honest here, do you really think antisemites needed my app as a way of spreading hate?"

Last updated: 2:11pm, September 19 2011