Friday, June 24, 2011

Apple Pulls ThirdIntifada App Urging Attacks on Israel

When it comes to attacking the state of Israel, there's no longer an app for that. At least not for Apple's iOS devices.

Under pressure from Jewish organizations and the Israeli government, the computer Relevant Products/Services and mobile Relevant Products/Services-device giant on Wednesday stopped offering ThirdIntifada through its App Store. The free Arabic program offered updates on Palestinian protests against Israel and links to anti-Zionist articles and editorials.

Shaking Off

Intifada, which means "shaking off" in Arabic, refers to the violent resistance against Israel by Palestinians that began in 1987 in the West Bank and Gaza territories, which were then both controlled by Israel. It was largely characterized by images of Arab youths throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, but has also included stabbings, shootings and bombings.

The Oslo peace talks in the early 90s calmed the unrest, but after a lack of progress new violence erupted in 2000, which was quickly termed a second intifada.

The "third intifada" refers to calls for another uprising against Israel to increase pressure on the Jewish state to fully withdraw from the West Bank after leaving Gaza in 2005. Intifada has become a politically loaded term in America; a New York City principal lost her job at an Arab-language charter school after she seemed to minimize its violent implications in a New York Post interview.

Apple didn't immediately respond to our request for comment, but in a widely published statement said, "We removed this app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."

The ThirdIntifada app seems to be the work of a group that posted a page by that name on Facebook. The social-media site took down that page, which had 350,000 likes, after protests by Israel and others.

When Apple began offering the app last week, an Israeli official wrote a letter to CEO Steve Jobs (who is on medical leave) requesting it be removed.

Calls for Uprising

"Upon review of the stories, articles and photos published by means of the 
application Relevant Products/Services, one can easily see that this is in fact anti-Israel and 
anti-Zionist. Furthermore, as is implied by its name, the application calls 
for an uprising against the state of Israel," wrote Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Israeli minister of information and the diaspora.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, also reached out to Apple to decry ThirdIntifada.

"This violates [the App Store's] terms of agreement," Foxman told us. "They acted responsibly by taking it down. We were out there when they did it on Facebook. This is the same thing, just on a different server."

Technology is playing an increasing role in the Palestinian movement against Israel. Last month, in preparation for the anniversary of Israel's founding, which many Arabs call the Nakba, or catastrophe, tens of thousands of text messages were sent to residents of the West Bank and east Jerusalem calling for protests, Israeli media reported.

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