Walmart announced Wednesday it has discontinued the sale of its "Israeli soldier kids costume" and "Sheik Fagin nose" after facing widespread backlash, including calls to boycott the chain store's on social media, Haaretz reports.
One commenter on Walmart’s Facebook page called the costume “extremely offensive and highly insensitive, not only to the millions of Palestinian-Americans that shop in your stores, but to anyone who has an ounce of humanity in their bodies.”
A post listed under customer reviews on Walmart’s site also expressed outrage: “Might as well sell a Hitler outfit for children as well! Pitiful!”
— Sara Yasin (@missyasin) October 27, 2015
— Nadeem Muaddi (@nmuaddi) October 26, 2015
The "Israeli soldier" costume, which resembles a uniform worn by soldiers in the Israeli Defense Force, was available on the discount department store chain’s website for $27.44, reduced from $57.62.
A latex prosthetic nose, which the Walmart website called a “Sheikh Fagin nose” and described as “perfect for an Arab Sheik,” also generated criticism. The product name refers to a villain in Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee welcomed Walmart's decision to discontinue sale of the items, saying they reinforce “racist, anti-Arab” sentiments.
“Selling merchandise which mocks Arabs, or any other race or ethnicity, must not be tolerated,” ADC President Samer Khalaf said in a statement. “These images do nothing but perpetuate racist tropes that have long been used to demonize, otherize and alienate Arab communities throughout history.”
The outcry comes amid escalating violence in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. In the past five weeks, 11 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, while 54 Palestinians, including 32 labeled by Israel as attackers, have died from Israeli fire.
Many of the Palestinian attackers have originated in east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for their capital.
The violence was initially sparked over rights to a Jerusalem holy site and Palestinian fears over Israeli settlement on disputed territory.
Israel has responded with a crackdown in Palestinian neighborhoods, deploying thousands of security forces and placing roadblocks and military-style checkpoints at the entrances.