The online gaming platform Steam could be taken to court for its refusal to take off the market a video game that allows players to slaughter Israeli soldiers and perform acts of terrorism, an international legal group told the Washington Free Beacon.
Steam, which has some 25 million users and is owned by the Valve company, may be "in direct violation of United States anti-terrorism legislation" over its sale of Fursan Al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to the International Legal Forum (ILF), an advocacy group of more than 3,500 international lawyers and civil society activists. The video game puts you in control of a Palestinian militant who slaughters Israelis with high-powered weaponry and other munitions.
The game has drawn widespread condemnation in Israel, as well as from international anti-Semitism watchdogs, but remains on sale by Steam for $14.99. While the game was temporarily removed from Steam's library following an October 2021 Free Beacon report, it reemerged in April 2022 in an updated version that includes "even more gruesome and violent" material, according to ILF chief executive officer Arsen Ostrovsky, who said his organization notified Valve in recent correspondence that it will "consider pursuing all availing legal actions" to get the game removed.
The ILF has spent months privately attempting to contact Valve, including as recently as last month, and alert it to potential violations of U.S. anti-terrorism laws, but the company has not responded to any of these efforts. "We put them on notice that this game, with its horrific glorification of violence and incitement to terror, may place them in direct violation of United States anti-terrorism laws and that in the absence of a satisfactory response and the removal of the game, we would consider pursuing all availing legal actions."
Social media companies like Facebook removed promotional materials for the game, but Steam has yet to respond to overtures by the ILF and other pro-Israel advocacy groups. The game, which urges players to "join the resistance now," features the violent murder of Israelis, including execution-style gunshots to the face, according to recent clips posted online.
The video game's creator, Nidal Nijm Games, has fully embraced the controversy, publicly bragging in his Twitter profile about being the "most based Game dev on Steam" and "making Zionists cry." Promotional materials for the game posted on YouTube tout Israeli opposition to it and feature Jewish soldiers being shot in the face. With anti-Semitic hate crimes spiking in the United States and other Western nations, legal experts say that Steam could be running afoul of laws barring material support for terror acts, according to one legal watchdog group.
"This is not a mere game, but an unhinged display in glorification of violence and incitement to terror, that may now also place Steam and Valve in direct violation of United States anti-terrorism legislation," Ostrovsky told the Free Beacon.
The ILF first informed Steam in October that it could be violating anti-terrorism laws. Steam delayed the release of the game, but never sent ILF a response to its initial letter or subsequent efforts to establish contact. Steam did not respond by press time to a Free Beacon request for comment.
"With anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., including violence against Jews, at an all-time high, while Israel has experienced a wave of Palestinian terror attacks this past year, with over 20 people killed, this ‘game' will only encourage and incite further violence and terror against both Israelis and Jews in America alike," Ostrovsky said. "Instead of turning its back and allowing their platform to be used for the purposes of incitement to terror and violence, Valve ought to immediately withdraw this game from distribution."
Ostrovsky's group warned Steam parent company Valve that "in the event further attacks and loss of life arise out of this display in pure barbarism masquerading as a ‘virtual game,' not only blood, but legal liability, will be on the hands of Valve."
A trailer for the video game shows the main character, a Palestinian militant, earning points for shooting Israelis in the head and blowing up various structures. The game, its creator says on Steam, is "breaking the cliché of portraying Arabs as Terrorists."
"Resisting the Zionist Occupation is NOT Terrorism!" states a YouTube page that hosts clips from the game.
The game's principal character is "Ahmad al-Falastini, a young Palestinian student who was unjustly tortured and jailed by Israeli soldiers for five years, had all his family killed by an Israeli airstrike, and now, after getting out from the prison, seeks revenge against those who wronged him, killed his family, and stole his homeland, by joining a new Palestinian resistance movement."
The European Jewish Congress (EJC), which combats anti-Semitism across the continent, said in February that the game "incites hatred and anti-Semitic violence."
"In the confusion between the real world and the digital world," the Italian Anti-Semitism Observatory said in comments supported by the EJC, "this game teaches how to kill Israelis."