Online gaming platform Steam could be sued for its refusal to remove a video game from the market that allows players to massacre Israeli soldiers and commit acts of terrorism, an international legal group has told the Free Washington Beacon.
Steam, which has some 25 million users and is owned by Valve, could be “in direct violation of United States anti-terrorism laws” due to its sale of Fursan Al-Aqsa: The Knights of 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 massacres Israelis with high-powered weapons and other ammunition.
The game has been widely condemned in Israel, as well as by international anti-Semitism watchdogs, but remains on sale through Steam for $14.99. While the game has been temporarily removed from Steam’s library following an October 2021 Free tag report, it reappeared in April 2022 in an updated version that includes “even more gruesome and violent” material, according to ILF director general Arsen Ostrovsky, who said his organization informed Valve in correspondence. recent news that it would “consider pursuing all available legal action” to remove the game.
The ILF has spent months privately attempting to contact Valve, including as recently as last month, and alert it to potential violations of US anti-terrorism laws, but the company has not responded to any of these. efforts. “We have warned them 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 of the game being removed, we would consider pursuing all available legal action.”
Social media companies like Facebook have removed promotional material for the game, but Steam has yet to respond to overtures from the ILF and other pro-Israel advocacy groups. The game, which urges players to “join the resistance now”, features the violent killing of Israelis, including execution-style gunfire to the face, according to recent clips posted online.
The creator of the video game, Nidal Nijm Games, has fully embraced the controversy, publicly bragging in his Twitter profile about being “the most Steam-based game developer” and “bringing Zionists to tears”. Promotional materials for the game posted on YouTube tout Israeli opposition and feature Jewish soldiers shot in the face. With anti-Semitic hate crimes on the rise in the United States and other Western countries, legal experts say Steam may be violating laws prohibiting material support for terrorist acts, according to a legal watchdog group.
“This is not just a game, but a messy display of glorifying violence and inciting terror, which can now place Steam and Valve in direct violation of United States anti-terrorism laws,” Ostrovsky said. to Free tag.
The ILF first notified Steam in October that it may be violating anti-terrorism laws. Steam delayed the game’s release, 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 tag request for comment.
“With anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, including violence against Jews, at an all-time high, while Israel experienced a wave of Palestinian terror attacks last year, with more than 20 people killed, this ” game “will only encourage and incite more violence and terror against Israelis and Jews in America,” Ostrovsky said. “Instead of turning their backs and allowing their platform to be used for incitement to terror and violence, Valve should immediately remove this game from distribution.”
Ostrovsky’s group warned Steam’s parent company, Valve, that “in the event that further attacks and loss of life arise from this display in sheer barbarism masquerading as a ‘virtual game’, not only will the blood, but the legal responsibility, will be in 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, says its creator on Steam, “breaks the cliché of portraying Arabs as terrorists.”
“Resisting the Zionist occupation is NOT terrorism!” indicates a YouTube page that hosts clips of the game.
The main character of the game is “Ahmad al-Falastini, a young Palestinian student who was unjustly tortured and imprisoned by Israeli soldiers for five years, saw his entire family killed by an Israeli airstrike, and now, after getting out of prison, seeks revenge against those who wronged him, killed his family and robbed his homeland, by joining a new Palestinian resistance movement.”
The European Jewish Congress (EJC), which fights anti-Semitism across the continent, said in February that the game “incites anti-Semitic hatred and violence”.
“In the confusion between the real world and the digital world,” the Italian Antisemitism Observatory said in comments supported by the EJC, “this game teaches how to kill Israelis.”