Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Israel made headlines all over the world but not for the reason one might expect.
A huge online backlash followed when Abe and his wife were presented a dessert in a shoe. Yes, you read that right, a shoe.
Now, this would be considered grotesque in any world culture, but to present food in a shoe to the leader of a country that is famous for table etiquettes is just a huge error in judgment by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or whoever approved of the dessert.
The festive feast was held at the official residence of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, which featured mouth-watering chocolate pralines in a shoe sculpture.
Celebrity Israeli chef Segev Moshe creation caused outrage on Instagram where he proudly put up his creation.
“What an ignorant idiot. Japanese culture despises shoes and placing their shape on a table is incredibly outrageous to your guests,” said one user.
“Whatever the past, it's an insult to the people of Japan as a whole, even if the shoe was metallic, Israeli ministry should release statement asking for forgiveness; it's simple, if you can't bear insult, don't insult others,” another said.
“Did you do this intentionally to insult the Japanese people? If you can't be creative, try at least to be curious and learn something about your guests' culture,” another appalled user wrote.
Even Israel’s own publications called out the dessert choice for being tone-deaf.
“Japanese diplomats, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and high-ranking Israeli diplomats who previously served in Japan were shocked by the idea,” wrote Israel’s popular daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot.
The same article quoted an unnamed Israel official saying, “This was an insensitive decision. There is nothing lowlier than a shoe in Japanese culture. Not only do they not wear shoes at home, you also won’t find shoes in their offices. This is disrespect of the first order.”
A Japanese diplomat was also quoted conveying his contempt for the choices made at the dinner, “There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humor, we don’t think it is funny; we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”
Despite immense backlash, the chef stood by his decision to serve food in a shoe. The argument? Well, it wasn’t a real shoe.
“The dessert was served inside a sculpture by international artist Tom Dixon, whose works are displayed in major museums around the world and for the first time was displayed in Israel at a meal. This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a shoe; it is not a real shoe,” Segev's publicist said, according to Yediot Aharonot.
Segev’s creative flair was displayed in May 2017 when he President Donald Trump visited Israel and was presented with a dessert that featured his’ and Netanyahu’s silhouettes, but this time he took it a little too far.
Talk about putting your foot in your mouth.
Thumbnail/Banner: Abir Sultan/Pool via Reuters