America’s largest supermarket chain has sparked controversy with Halloween costumes including an “Israeli soldier for kids” and “sheikh Fagin nose”.
The soldier costume, including a shirt, trousers, belt and hat, carries Hebrew writing and appears to resemble uniforms worn by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) paratroopers and elite units.
A photo showed a young boy wearing it and posing with a toy gun, while pointing at the camera.
It is being sold at the reduced price of $27.44 (£17.90) with the description: “When Halloween time rolls around, make this item part of your child's complete ensemble.”
But reviewers were quick to voice their disapproval. “Might as well sell a Hitler outfit for children as well!” wrote one commenter, who called the costume “utterly insensitive” and gave it one star.
The comments were echoed by critics on social media, with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news quoting pro-Palestinian Twitter users accusing Walmart of “supporting killing and occupation”.
A description of the costume on another website, Wholesale Halloween Costumes, read: “Defend your Jewish heritage proudly by wearing the Israeli Soldier Boy's Costume! The Israeli Defense Forces have a mission to protect the land and the people of Israel from outside threats with low casualties, and to avoid waging war if at all possible.”
Walmart also sells an Israeli police officer costume for children, as well as an array of military outfits representing different US forces.
The chain was additionally being criticised for an accessory by Morris Costumes being sold on its website under the title: “Sheik Fagin Nose (sic)”.
“Latex prosthetic nose perfect for an Arab Sheik,” reads the description of the item, which is also sold by several other outlets.
A photo showed it being worn with a beard and headdress but its name also alluded to Fagin, the Jewish antagonist in Oliver Twist, whose characterisation provoked allegations of anti-Semitism during Charles Dickens’ lifetime and ever since.
Full “Arab Sheikh” and "Arab Knight" costumes are also available on Walmart’s website.
It is not the first time the supermarket’s Halloween outfits have provoked outrage.
Last year, Walmart withdrew a costume labelled “Pashtun Papa” after social media users branded it “racist” and “offensive”
“Represent the Middle East,” the description read. “Nothing is sacred this Halloween. Shock your friends with this Islamic costume.”
The 10 Best Halloween costumes for kids
The 10 Best Halloween costumes for kids
2. Mothercare Dracula
Determined to spook out the neighbourhood? This Dracula costume comes from the reassuring household name of Mothercare and you get plenty of bits and pieces for your money – a cape, waistcoat top, trousers, mask and bat bowtie.
3. Loubilou Pumpkin
Available from six months to six years, this soft fleece two-piece pumpkin suit is simple but effective. It’s beautifully made, with an elasticated hemline for an easy fit, so it will do nicely as a hand-me-down for future Halloweens, too.
4. George Witch
Asda really goes to town on Halloween costumes and accessories, which probably isn’t surprising given that it’s owned by an American company. This witch outfit for children aged three upwards, has plenty of detail, although you’ll need to buy a separate broomstick.
£10, asda.com (in store only)
5. Angels Fancy Dress Lil Spitfire
When your child is running around as if possessed, due to the sugar rush they’ve got from all those Halloween sweets, it might feel like this outfit is particularly appropriate. Available for the terrible twos right up to troublesome teens, it comes from the UK’s largest fancy dress retailer.
6. A2Z Kids Little green alien
Keep sight of your little extraterrestrial during trick or treating in this bright jumpsuit with attached gloves, separate feet covers, alien head piece and antennae. Suitable for four- to 12-year-olds. Don’t forget to remind them: “We come in peace.”
7. Marks & Spencer Skeleton
Why not kill two birds with one stone with these all-in-one pyjamas made from supersoft pure cotton? Available from 18 months to eight years, it’s perfect for after bathtime, sitting around in and, of course, trick or treating.
8. Angels Fancy Dress Howling Ghost
Available in three different sizes to suit ages three to 10, this good old- fashioned ghoulish ghost outfit is sure to make them scream this Halloween. It includes a moulded ghost mask, full-cut polyester hooded robe and black gloves
9. Fancy dress ball howling at the moon
With or without a full moon this Halloween, shapeshift your youngster into a werewolf with this high-quality and durable fancy dress outfit. It includes a tattered lumberjack shirt, fur werewolf hands and a mask with fangs. Will fit budding lycanthropes aged eight to 14.
10. Aldi Witch’s Cat
All of Aldi’s Halloween costumes – which include a pumpkin, skeleton, vampire and witch, among others - are under a fiver and are available in age 3-4, 5-6 or 7-8. This witch’s cat costume comes complete with separate ears.
£3.99, aldi.co.uk (in store only)
A Walmart spokesperson said at the time that the costume was sold by a third-party retailer and had not been vetted.
In 2013, it was also one of several retailers to remove an Osama bin Laden-themed costume.
Walmart has not responded to The Independent’s request for a comment.