In the words of its developer Nidal Nijm—the Brazilian-born son of a retired Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrilla—a new video game aims to counteract “the cliché of representing Muslims and Arabs as terrorists, bandits, villains and the Americans/Israelis as the ‘good guys.’” David May and Jack Gibson see in it something else:
Fursan al-Aqsa: The Knights of the al-Aqsa Mosque, a new game in which players murder Israeli soldiers in an attempt to “free Palestine,” disappeared from Facebook and the video-game distribution service Steam last week. Nijm, . . . Nijm tweeted his frustration: “For ALL ZIONISTs… YOU WILL NEVER STOP #FursanAqsaGame.”
Steam, Facebook, and other platforms should not readmit this glorification of violence, which sets back the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace and might even inspire actual attacks. The game’s trailer declares: “We Never Surrender,” “We Resist Until Death,” and “Resistance is not Terrorism.” Nijm tweeted last month, “My game is not about murdering Israelis,” though that is the central focus of the game. In fact, Nijm goes to great lengths to claim his video game does not promote terrorism. [But] in June 2020, he wrote on Twitter, “I am against the crimes Israel Army does against Palestinian Civilians, just like what nazist did against jews [sic].”
Such incitement to violence helped inspire the “stabbing intifada” in 2015, a series of lone-wolf attacks that left 42 Israelis dead. Just last month, Palestinians carried out several stabbing attacks in Israel. . . . The estimated average age of attackers during the stabbing intifada was between nineteen and twenty years old. A 2018 study across several Arab countries found that 55 percent of those ages eighteen to twenty-four play video games. . . . Fursan al-Aqsa may inspire some of these gamers to live out their video-game fantasies and murder Israelis.