Disgust at Walmart’s Israeli soldier costume for kids

Walmart’s Israeli soldier’s costume for children shows insensitivity to victims and survivors of war crimes.

Update

On Tuesday evening, Walmart withdrew from sale two products that have generated widespread outrage and disgust: the Israeli soldier costume for children and the grotesquely racist “Sheikh Fagin Nose.”

The Halloween costumes are no longer available on the company’s website. The giant retailer has not responded to a request for comment.

Earlier, a host of groups and social media users, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the US Palestinian Community Network jointly called on Walmart and other retailers to stop selling the two items.

Robert Mackey has more details at The New York Times’ “Open Source” blog.

Original article

Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, has sparked outrage by selling an “Israeli Soldier Costume for Kids.”

The Halloween outfit is particularly distasteful at a time when human rights groups are strongly condemning Israel’s policy of extrajudicially executing Palestinians forced to live under its decades-long military occupation.

The costume, seen above, includes a dark green uniform and red beret. The jacket includes the Hebrew abbreviation for “Israel Defense Forces.” An Internet search shows that it is sold by other online retailers as well.

“When I first saw the Israeli soldier costume for kids I thought it was a joke,” Gaza writer and editor Refaat Alareer told The Electronic Intifada. “The model boy used to promote this costume is probably the age of my niece, whose father Israeli soldiers murdered in Gaza in 2014 when they destroyed our family home.”

In the summer of 2014 the Israeli army killed 551 Palestinian children during its assault on Gaza.

Many child survivors of Israel’s attack now have lifelong injuries.

An independent UN Human Rights Council inquiry found extensive evidence of war crimes during the assault that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, likely ordered at the highest level of the Israeli government.

Alareer’s brother Muhammad, known as Hamada, was killed during the Israeli attack on the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya, a devastating assault that destroyed the homes of thousands of families and killed dozens of people.

Hamada had played a beloved children’s character similar to Big Bird on Palestinian TV, called Karkour. He left behind his wife, a young daughter and baby son.

“I am sure my orphan niece and nephew would be terrorized seeing the kid wearing the Israeli khaki uniform which is the reason for the death of their beloved dad,” Alareer said.

“The Israeli soldier uniform will remain an ugly scar in the face of Walmart which by selling this outfit promotes death, destruction and occupation,” he added. “As a Palestinian who lost many relatives to Israeli soldiers in a costume like the one Walmart is selling, I feel disgusted.”

Alareer urged Walmart to “remove this revolting outfit and apologize for the 551 Palestinian kids Israel murdered in the summer of 2014.”

He also called on American parents to “boycott this outfit and Walmart and not allow their kids to wear a costume of murderers.”

Racist costumes

Walmart’s “Sheikh Fagin” costume manages to be both anti-Arab and anti-Semitic.

AJ Plus producer Dena Takruri also pointed out other troubling and racist costumes for sale at Walmart.com.

These include this “Sheikh Fagin Nose” mask. The “hook nose” is regular feature of racist caricatures of Jews and Arabs. Fagin is the name of a villainous character in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, often criticized as an anti-Semitic stereotype.

Controversy

The Israeli soldier costume has already generated negative media coverage for Walmart, including in The Independent, New York Daily News, Al Arabiya and The Jerusalem Post.

An inquiry has been sent to the company, but other media say the retailer has yet to comment.

Last summer, Walmart removed items bearing the Confederate flag from its shelves.

The move came after a gunman murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on 17 June.

Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist who posted pictures of himself posing with the Confederate flag, has been charged with the killings.

While Walmart had profited from the racist symbol for years, it bowed to a wave of revulsion and decided to stop selling the flag.

It remains to be seen whether Walmart will show any such sensitivity to the child victims of Israel’s occupation and war crimes.

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Comments

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you know what to do my north american comrades boycott the shite out of walmart or flood their social media pages on twitter and facebook till they take this vile costume out of their inventory

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The strong relation between business, politics and war machine is very clear. It is clear that money and power are steering the conflict on the expense of Israeli and Palestinian blood, lives and sufferings. The total profit is calculated by dividing the money gained by the number of people killed on the ground, you may deduct the tax money, it is optional.

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"The product is all sold out lol."

And what does fiercely independent Israel do when it runs out of bombs and missiles with which to slaughter Palestinian civilians? Put in a rush order to Washington. Maybe these merchants of symbolic oppression will be able to do the same. An emergency resolution of the Senate is now called for. America has an ample supply of prisoners to manufacture the cute little costumes- convict labour is used to produce US army uniforms, too.

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Well, actually just so that Israel does not have too many problems with weapon stocks, US stores some of its own stock in Israel which Israel can draw from when needed. As I understand some of the US weapon stocks in Israel were used in 2014.
"Letting Israel access a vast reserve of U.S.-supplied ammunitions “sends a very strong message to Hamas,” said John Sitilides, Government affairs and international relations specialist and former chairman of the Southeast Europe Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars."

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I believe they were removed!

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The US military supports Israel and has also been under fire for human rights violations. No one is complaining about US soldier costumes.

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It would be nice if Wall Mart were to stop hawking those too.

Of course this would probably not go over well with the "you can have my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead hands/fingers" set.

So much violence. So many couch potato "John Waynes" fantasizing what they can do to their fellow humans with an automatic weapon or a tank.

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True and that's the meat of the problem in a nutshell. US militarism is automatically tacit support for Israel's. A bomb equals an explosion. What else can so comprehensively explain our continuing support for what the vast majority of the cognizant world sees as completely outrageous? Lobbies are hobbies compared to the careers in death created by whole cultures nurtured by violence. Nationalism, there's the problem and we don't seem to be leaving it behind.
Perhaps God and Global Warming will force a break, someday, if we last that long. Children and their toys indeed.

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It's the new Cowboys and Indians... classic colonial discourse. Do they get rape instructions with it? Does it have a certificate of morality?

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Unfortunately, more work is needed on this matter. If you Google "Israeli soldier costume" there are other retailers selling it online, that we need to demand they remove from their websites.

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Given that Halloween costumes and makeup have incorporated increasing levels of violent imagery and monstrous deformation, it was inevitable that IDF uniforms would make an appearance. It's a step down from the zombies, but you can't stop progress.

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Glad Walmart removed the costumes from sale. But they still sell IDF combat and rifle pistol grips, IDF tactical bags, and Dragon Models IAF UH-1N Helicopter with IDF (Israeli Defense Force) Paratroopers Figures ET Kit. Now granted a model kit is aimed at ages 14+, but listen to its description: "Israel used its helicopters in various Middle East conflicts and against Palestinian militants for more than 30 years . . . . To make the set even more attractive, Dragon is throwing in a figure set of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) paratroopers. The Paratroopers Brigade is a renowned fighting force in Israel and the unit has taken part in many missions. . . . Together, the figures and helicopter can create an inspiring scene of air-ground cooperation in the Middle East." I would hope a parent would want his 15-year old to model a different sort of cooperation.

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While I am amused at the blatant racism of walmart towards Arabs, I am glad to see how they view Israel and Israelis: Soldiers and militarists. The fact that no Israelis or any of their supporters criticized this -- and we know how vocal and hysterical they can be -- means only that militarism is the quintessence of Israel without even being noticed or questioned.

Btw, where are all these Arab and Palestine-haters, who preach "look what they teach their kids!"?

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Talk about a dumbass buyer! WOW!
Those costumes ate totally inappropriate and I'm a liberal person!

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Please boycott, divest and sanction Wholesale Halloween Costumes and Amazon for importing and selling the Israeli soldier costume for boys.

Please inundate them with mail, email, vmail, faxes etc.

They have yet to disclose who makes this costume.

WHC USA can be reached at:

http://wholesalehalloweencostu...

Amazon USA can be reached at:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help...

Salam Shalom Peace

Stan Current
Denver Colorado USA
Jewish Voice for Peace

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.