Major retailer Walmart promoted the state of Israel and the “Israeli Defense Force” as a Halloween costume for children, all for under thirty dollars. The costume, which was sold alongside that of the navy seal and the US police offer, has been deshelved after outrage by people across the country and successful pressure advocacy by civil liberties organizations such as CAIR and ADC.
What does it mean when a corporation such as Walmart’s, with their track record of poor labor and racist practices, decide that the very same IDF soldiers that apparently are too controversial to market to children train the police that continue to be marketed and celebrated on shelves across the country? What does it mean when war-making and the logic of policing continues to marketable, profitable and acceptable?
It is in fact nothing but repulsive to market the IDF while the Israeli military is extra judicially killing Palestinians in the West Bank, restricting movement for Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, and the six-decade occupation of Palestine under racist and apartheid policies. In addition, Operation Protective Edge killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, and hundreds have been injured or wounded, and 10,000 homes have been destroyed in Gaza just this last year. In the past 3 weeks, at least 60 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 Palestinians have been injured. The protests earlier this month were triggered after the Israeli government restricted the access for worshippers to Al-Aqsa. One of the main factors to the protests was the continuous vigilantly settler armed gangs attacking and murdering Palestinians on a daily basis.
The IDF costume is, however, consistent with the profitable industry of costumes promoting racist stereotypes and such as the “Sheikh Fagin Nose.” On the Walmart website, the prosthetic nose was described as the “perfect for an Arab Sheikh. (The Nose has been taken down while this post was written.) . Walmart has a history of promoting and selling racist costumes. Last year, Walmart featured the “Pashtun Papa,” which was a long grey beard, a turban, a black vest, and brown one piece. The description of this “costume” stated: “Represent the Middle East in the Men’s Pashtun Papa Costume this Halloween season. Whether you’re making a serious political statement or staging a political parody, this authentic- looking outfit is sure to fit the bill.” Pashtuns have been reduced to an offensive costume. Walmart took the item of their online store after a wave of social media outrage. The Sheikh nose was able to be both anti- Arab and anti-Jewish at the same time. Fagin also appeared on the label for the Sheikh box, a Jewish character in the novel “Oliver Twist.” It has been recalled from the online store after civil rights groups like CAIR, USPCN, and others directed a call to drop the nose. Walmart continues to site “third party product policy” have nothing to do with Walmart’s mission statement towards “community sensitivity” and “diversity.”
Walmart in the past has profited from racist symbols like the Confederate flag, which was later pulled off their shelves after Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Walmart has taken down the IDF costume as they should.
So long as, every 28 hours a black man is killed by the police, it is the logic of policing and war that will continue to permeate society and result in hate crimes, discrimination, and state violence.