European rabbis said Tuesday that they were lobbying Apple to pull a mobile app version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery.
The Conference of European Rabbis, which represents Orthodox Jewish congregations across the continent, says it wants the iPhone manufacturer to stop selling an Arabic-language version of The Protocols being offered through its iTunes service. The group says carrying The Protocols in app form made it much more likely that it would be used by bigots and conspiracy theorists.
"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, (but) to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable," conference president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said in a statement.
The Protocols, which began circulating in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, purports to lift the lid on a secret Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The publication has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, but it endures as a staple of anti-Semitic rhetoric among neo-Nazis and other anti-Jewish extremists.
The app, produced by a company known as the Innovation Group, does include a disclaimer that "The Protocols" has been described as a forgery, but Goldschmidt said in a telephone interview that it was being sold for 99 cents a download in a context which made it clear that it was aimed at "propagating hatred."
Israel's minister of public diplomacy, Yuli Edelstein, said Apple shouldn't allow the material on iTunes.
"They wouldn't allow paedophilia and pornography on their networks," he told The Associated Press. "They shouldn't allow xenophobia, anti-Semitism or racism."
Goldschmidt said he didn't know of any other versions of "The Protocols" on iTunes. Apple did not return repeated messages seeking comment.