One of the cultural etiquettes familiar across the world is the Japanese people’s attitude towards shoes. But it seems the universally known fact about Japanese culture was lost on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose chef served dessert to the Japanese leader in a shoe.
The embarrassing moment unfolded in the Netanyahu residence in Jerusalem during dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country recently recognised the state of Palestine and increased aid to the Palestinian Authority. Abe, who is more accustomed to shoes being left outside the dining room and not used to serve fine dessert, is reported to have been deeply offended by the shenanigans of Netanyahu’s personal chef.
The gourmet dessert served in a shoe was dished up by Israeli celebrity chef Segev Moshe, who cooks for the Netanyahus when they are entertaining visiting dignitaries. Moshe cooked up a chocolate praline dessert served in two pairs of men’s black brogues.
An unidentified diplomat outraged by the antics ridiculed the stunt saying “there is no culture in the world where you put shoes on a table.” The diplomat cited by Israeli news agencies continued: “What exactly did the illustrious chef Segev think to himself? We can’t understand what he was trying to say here. If it is humour then we don’t think it is funny. I can tell you we were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”
One Israeli diplomat who served in Japan was equally livid: “There is nothing more despicable in Japanese culture than a shoe. Not only do they not enter their homes in shoes, you won’t find any shoes in their bureaus. Even the prime minister, ministers, and members of parliament, host in their bureaus without shoes. This is a failure and a diplomatic mockery. A disrespect of the highest order. It is like giving a Jewish guest chocolate inside a vessel in the shape of a pig.”