Public outcry on social media has prompted retail giant Walmart to remove a Halloween costume and accessory from the racks just days before the annual trick or treat night.

The outfit, “Israeli soldier kids costume” drew criticism from shoppers who said it was offensive to Palestinian-Americans who patronize the store, “as well as anyone with an ounce of humanity in their bodies,” according to one post on the Walmart Facebook page.

The soldier costume is similar to the uniform of Israeli Defence Force soldiers.

Another commenter wrote, “Might as well sell a Hitler outfit for children as well! Pitiful!”

Calls for a boycott accompanied the angry comments.

Nadeem Muaddi, an editor at Al Jazeera America, also complained on social networks about the costume, as well as a latex prosthetic nose.

The “Sheik Fagin nose,” advertised as “perfect for an Arab Sheik,” was also taken off the shelves at Walmart, but remains on sale at the Amazon.com website, as does the Israeli soldier costume.

The word “Fagin” is a reference to the Jewish villain in Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” rather than an Arab character.

Relations between Palestinians and Israelis, always tense, have been strained to near breaking in recent weeks as Palestinian stabbing attacks have killed 11 Israelis. Israelis have retaliated with attacks resulting in the death of 54 Palestinians.

Thousands of soldiers have been sent into Palestinian neighborhoods by Israel in response to the violence.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee commended Walmart's action to remove the costume and the accessory, saying the items only serve to 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.”

 

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