Israeli officials were up in arms Tuesday after Apple cleared for release into the iPhone App Store an application that encourages violent uprising against Israel, and advocates violence against “settlers,” generally defined by Arab anti-Israel groups as all residents of Israel.
Called “The Third Intifada,” the Arabic-language app features articles and stories by radical Arab members of Fatah and Hamas, as well as members of the Palestinian Authority. They discuss strategies to use in fighting IDF soldiers, and glorify acts of violence that have already taken place.
The app also features photos and images of Arab youths throwing stones and bombs at Israelis, and a collection of “intifada music” popular in the PA. In addition, it has a social media component, designed to allow activists to organize “flash mobs” on the go, gathering quickly at specific times and places to attack Israelis.
The app was developed by the same group that created the Facebook “Nakba Day fan page,” that was used in May to organize demonstrations and riots against Israeli police and soldiers. The page was taken down after mass complaints to Facebook.
Information and Hasbara Minister Yuli Edelstein called on Apple to withdraw the app from its online store. In a letter to Apple executives, including company director Steve Jobs, Edelstein wrote that after examining the app, “we can clearly point to this app as being anti-Israel and anti-Zionist. It clearly calls for an uprising against Israel. One of the app's objectives is to allow Palestinians to gather quickly for protests – some of them violent – that are planned."
“I believe that Apple, as a pioneering company, places the values of freedom of speech and creativity on a high level,” Edelstein continued. “At the same time, Apple is no doubt aware of the damage an app like this can cause. I ask you to please remove the app and restore your company to its preeminent place as a supplier of information and entertainment, and not to allow your good name to be used for incitement.”
Apple hasn't responded yet, but an examination of previous political controversies surrounding apps shows that Apple has removed a number that were considered offensive – including one that contained offensive drawings of golfer Tiger Woods, and another with political cartoons about which users complained.
A number of bloggers and writers have accused Apple of having a liberal bias in its App Store approvals; last year, Apple rejected an app by a Republican challenger for a Congressional seat in California held by a Democrat. After numerous protests, the app was approved.