UPDATE: Due to public pressure costumes have been removed from Walmart’s online store!
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | October 27th, 2015 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), joined by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), is calling on Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears Marketplace to remove the “Israeli Soldier Kids Costume” and “Sheik Fagin Nose” from their shelves and websites, along with other anti-Arab costumes stocked by the retailers.
ADC strongly condemns the decision of Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears Marketplace to sell an “Israeli Soldier Costume for Kids.” During the last month, more than 50 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces. An additional 2,000 have been injured and more than 600 have been imprisoned. Many of those killed, injured or imprisoned have been children. The Israeli forces are a symbol of violence and fear for Palestinians living under occupation, and Palestinians around the world whom have lost their homes and been victims of violence at the hands of soldiers. A symbol of fear, violence and a long history of dispossession should not be used for entertainment purposes. An Israeli soldier costume is highly offensive to Arab-Americans, particularly those who have had family members, including children, killed by Israeli soldiers.
ADC also denounces the retailers’ decision to sell a variety of “Arab” costumes, including an Arab “Sheik Fagin Nose” costume, with a stereotypically long Semitic nose. The glorification of Israeli soldiers juxtaposed with the mockery of Arab people promotes an anti-Arab racism that is all too common in America. Walmart’s webpage for the item suggests that the nose is “perfect for an Arab Sheik,” perpetuating racist tropes that have long been used to demonize, otherize and alienate Arab communities throughout history.
Not only is this offensive, but it can lead to hate crimes against Arab-Americans. Just last week, an Arab man was stabbed in Brooklyn, NY because of his Arab identity. According to authorities, one of the attackers stated: “I’m going to stab you because you’re Arabic and deserve it.” Hate crimes against Arab-Americans and other communities of color are on the rise. There are 784 hate groups nationwide, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. This rise in bigotry is a serious problem in American that is exacerbated by the xenophobic rhetoric espoused by the media and politicians. The decision of major retailers to sell racist costumes acts to further affirm and normalize this racism.