iPhone app ‘Jewish or Not Jewish’ removed from app store

Application asked people to guess whether French celebrities were Jewish or not; creator, Johann Levy, said he wanted to show Jewish pride.

September 15, 2011 18:44
1 minute read.

Iphone 1 311. (photo credit: digital.newzgeek.com)

PARIS - A made-in-France iPhone app called "Jew or Not Jew?" was removed from the French app store, its creator, Johann Levy, told JTA.

The application had been under fire for stigmatizing Jews. French Jewish and human rights groups argued that the application, which came out in early August and allows users to guess whether public personalities are Jewish or not, violates French law forbidding the collection of personal data such as a person’s religion or ethnicity without permission from the individual.

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The law was largely founded on the principle that Nazi occupiers used similar methods to round up Jews during World War II and send them to death camps.

Levy said his intentions were to show “pride” in being Jewish.

“I did it out of good intentions. I am Jewish myself," Levy said Tuesday on French radio Europe 1. "The goal was just to bring a feeling of pride to Jews when they see that such-and-such a businessman or celebrity is also Jewish.”

According to French law, Levy’s actions could technically cost him five years in prison and about $412,000 in fines, and SOS Racism announced it would file an official complaint for “an illicit” database by the end of this week.

Levy had said that “if there is a legal problem,” the application would be removed. The Apple Store also was facing legal responsibility for approving the sale of the application for about $1, but SOS Racism said it would only pursue the store if it refused to remove the program from sale.

The Jewish umbrella group CRIF and France’s Jewish Student Union were among those that denounced the program.

One of the so-called Jews on the application was French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the French daily Le Figaro. Sarkozy is in fact Catholic; his maternal grandfather was born Jewish and converted to Catholicism. Levy said he found all his information concerning the more than 3,500 individuals on the Internet and argued the data was already public.

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