Designer Tom Dixon recently found himself at the Center of a Japan / Israel Diplomacy Conflict
After a day of high-level meetings on May 2, the Japanese leader was treated to a festive meal at the official residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu.
It was their second time in Israel, and the visiting couple were served a meal by celebrity Israeli celebrity chef Segev Moshe.
Moshe, the Israeli Prime Minister’s private chef, capped the elaborate dinner with a selection of chocolates served in a Tom Dixon cast metal shoe, which is considered highly offensive in Japanese culture.
While Abe took the unusual presentation in stride, Japanese and Israeli diplomats and Japan watchers were shocked that the Japanese prime minister would be served from a shoe.
There aren’t that many cultures where putting a shoe on the dining room table is acceptable behaviour, but for the Japanese there is clear etiquette against allowing outdoor shoes inside.
An unnamed senior Israeli official acknowledged that it was a “stupid and insensitive decision” to serve dessert in a shoe.
“ 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. Even the Prime Minister, members of the cabinet, and other parliamentarians will host you in their office without shoes on. ”
“ There’s no culture in the world in which you put shoes on the table. What was the distinguished chef thinking? If it was humour, we don’t think it is funny. We were offended on behalf of our prime minister.”
” It’s like serving a Jewish guest chocolate inside a dish shaped like a pig.” ,……,, he told the popular Israeli Hebrew language daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot.
” We respect and appreciate the chef. He is very creative .” …………………….. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was not involved in approving the dishes for the meal.
Segev Moshe’s publicist was quick to note that the shoes were not real, but rather a sculpture by international artist Tom Dixon.
“ This is a high-quality piece of art made of cast metal in the shape of a shoe; it is not a real shoe. Tom Dixon’s works are displayed in major museums around the world and for the “first time was displayed in Israel at a meal.”
Both the Netanyahus and the Abes, were very enthusiastic about the meal in general and the dessert in particular, and applauded and complimented the chef.
The Japanese prime minister even invited the chef to cook in Japan.
Mr Segev’s creative side was displayed in May, 2017 when President Trump visited Israel.
Then, the celebrity chef served up a dessert in the shape of a double-headed Trump and Netanyahu.