In today’s culture it is perfectly normal to hear people making jokes about certain races, ethnicities, and religions. Most people know not to take these jokes seriously because they aren’t meant to be racist, just funny. But others still find them very offensive. For example, in France, anti-racism groups targeted Johann Levy, the creator of the App “Jew or not Jew,” because they felt his App was insulting to the Jewish community.

The app let users consult a database of celebrities and public figures to see if they are Jewish or not.

The anti-racism groups dropped the lawsuit when Levy agreed to remove his app from the market worldwide. But was this really necessary? I am not Jewish, so I can’t personally say if this app is offensive to Jewish people or not, but if there was an app called “Asian on not Asian” or “Buddhist or not Buddhist” I honestly wouldn’t find it offensive at all. Also the creator of the app, Johann Levy, is Jewish himself! He said:

he developed the app to be “recreational … as a Jew myself I know that in our community we often ask whether a such-and-such celebrity is Jewish or not,”

Is it such a big issue because it was specifically the Jewish community that was targeted? Does their history have anything to do with it? Would it have been this big of an issue if it was another religion, ethnicity, race, or group being targeted? There are games like these on talk shows all over America. I remember on the Tyra Banks show they had a game where the audience had to decide whether the person is really a woman or a transexual, so is “Jew or not Jew” that different from “Transexual or not Transexual”? Also, is it that much different from what we did in class when we tried to guess which race a person was based on their picture?

I can kind of see where the anti-racism groups are coming from, but I don’t believe the app was meant to be racist or offensive. The creator was just trying to identify Jewish celebrities, and I don’t see anything racist in that.

You can read the full article here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/french-anti-racism-groups-drop-lawsuit-over-jew-or-not-jew-iphone-app/2011/11/24/gIQAEvzRrN_story.html

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2 responses

  1. vkadar says:

    It seems to me that anti-semitism is considered one of the worst kinds of racism/discrimination, not only in the United States but many parts of the world. We all learned about the Holocaust, and that today, Germany is very strictly against anti-semitism, and has legislation against the denial of the Holocaust. Anything that seems to put Jews down or make them seem inferior is taken by most Jews as extremely offensive. However, the interesting this is, as the author of the blog above mentions, the creator of the
    “Jew or Not Jew” App is Jewish himself. He did not think it would be found offensive. Same is the case with a creator of an ad for “Wodka” vodka, who created a billboard for the brand which said “Christmas quality. Hanukkah pricing.” Many Jewish people found this billboard very offensive, even though the person who runs the company that designed the campaign is Jewish, and thought it would be funny. Here is the link to the article I am referring to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/nyregion/billboard-ad-for-wodka-vodka-called-anti-semitic-is-pulled.html
    I don’t think people should take such minor jokes so seriously. I myself am a Christian, I went to Catholic school for years, and I am able to laugh at jokes about Jesus without getting offended.

  2. talswisa says:

    I don’t think that the “Jew or not Jew” app was offensive, and as a Jewish person, I would probably find it amusing. But if, for example, this app was created by someone who is not Jewish, it would probably be more difficult for me to find it as amusing and not suspect that it has some offensive intentions. I believe that it is still difficult for many of us not to be suspicious. After all, whether we like to hear it or not, Jews were persecuted throughout history, and therefore a defensive reaction should not be surprising or unreasonable. I think that the Wodka vodka ad was not anti-Semitic. It may have been a bad joke or an unsuccessful attempt to incorporate Hanukkah and Christmas in the same ad in a quirky way (just because they are celebrated at around the same time), but I personally don’t think it was that offensive or meaningful.
    In regards to the previous comment, you wrote:

    “Anything that seems to put Jews down or make them seem inferior is taken by most Jews as extremely offensive.”

    How else should it be taken? Putting people down and making them seem inferior is offensive and clearly intentional. It is not the same as a joke.