It has generated anger in Israel:
Israeli TV newscasters Tuesday night interpreted a photo taken Monday in the Oval Office of President Obama talking on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an "insult" to Israel.I could understand if this was limited to Sephardic Jews who immigrated from Arab countries, but the implication is that this was not limited to them alone. Myself, my parents got annoyed at me when I walked around the house without my shoes, as that is a sign of mourning.
They saw the incident as somewhat akin to an incident last year, when the Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush in Baghdad.
It is considered an insult in the Arab world to show the sole of your shoe to someone. It is not a Jewish custom necessarily, but Israel feels enough a part of the Middle East after 60 years to be insulted too.
As the article makes clear--Israelis feel cornered, and are showing it.
Apparently, Israel is seen as being in the way:
Israel's Channel One TV reported that Netanyahu was told Tuesday by an "American official" in Jerusalem that, "We are going to change the world. Please, don't interfere." The report said Netanyahu's aides interpreted this as a "threat." [emphasis added]So much for getting rid of US arrogance.
UPDATE: Powerline quotes the thoughts of Paul Rahe, professor of history at Hillsdale College and author of the three-volume study Republics Ancient and Modern. Professor Rahe writes that Obama has a history of these kinds of gestures:
Far-fetched thoough these fears might seem, I suspect that these Israelis are not being hypersensitive. Barack Obama has a history of belittling his adversaries in just such a fashion. In April 2008, he was caught on tape during a debate with Hillary Clinton, rubbing his hand across the right side of his face and extending his middle finger in an obscene gesture that many in the audience could see it but she could not, and when this provoked laughter on the part of his supporters he responded with a knowing smile.Read the whole thing.
Later, after accepting his party's nomination, he did precisely the same thing during a debate with John McCain; and, after Sarah Palin remarked at the Republican National Convention that the only difference between a pit bull and a soccer mom was lipstick, he observed at a rally that a pig with lipstick is still a pig. Again, many in the audience caught the dig and they, too, were rewarded with a knowing smile...
...Behind the thin veneer of politeness, there is, I suspect, something ugly lurking. In the first of the autobiographies that he claims to have written, Barack Obama frequently speaks of himself as being in the grips of rage. We would do well to take him at his word. If we are to stop him from doing great damage to this country and to our friends and allies, we must take every opportunity that comes our way to unmask the man.