17:41 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahed of his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

    Foot in Mouth Syndrome: Netanyahu Serves Japan’s Abe ‘Offensive’ Dessert in Shoe

    © AP Photo / Abir Sultan
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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were dining with their wives when an Israeli celebrity chef served dessert. The only problem? The chocolate confections were served in a shoe - a cultural taboo in Japan.

    Abe was in Israel for his second official visit when he and his wife joined the Netanyahus for a dinner prepared by their private chef, Moshe Segev., who is somewhat of a celebrity in Israeli society due to his books and television appearances.

    They reportedly discussed North Korea, the Iran nuclear agreement, and Israeli-Palestinian relations. Everything seemed to be going well until he decided to serve dessert in a novel way and brought out a metal shoe filled with chocolates.

    ​A senior Israeli diplomat who served in Japan told Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli news agency, that it was a "stupid and insensitive decision." He suggested that the move was equivalent to "serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig." Consumption of pork is forbidden in Judaism as swine was considered a dirty meat in the days of old.

    "There is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes. Not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes, you will not find shoes in their offices, either. Even the prime minister, ministers and members of parliament do not wear shoes to work," the Israeli official said.

    "What precisely was this illustrious chef Segev thinking? If this is meant to be humor, we do not find it funny. I can tell you that we are offended for our prime minister," a Japanese diplomat told Yediot. "No culture puts shoes on the table."

    ​This is the second time that Japan has become embroiled in a food controversy recently. Japan lodged a protest on April 24 after news emerged that a dessert would be served at the historic Inter-Korean summit, which was held on April 27. The objection was over the depiction of the unified flag of Korea on a mango mousse cake.

    The flag features a map of a unified Korea, which includes some small, remote islands that are disputed by Japan. That map wound up featuring prominently at the summit, including on the chairs used by Korean leaders Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In. However, South Korea had previously dropped the islands from the unified flag for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February after Japan complained.


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    food, Shinzo Abe, Benjamin Netanyahu, Japan, Israel
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