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.
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.”
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.
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.