I have traveled extensively outside of the United Stated during my 33 years of full time ministry. I discovered early in my journey that every nation has a certain set of cultural guidelines and traditions. Some of the most unique customs are in the Arab world.

In the early 1980’s I hosted my first Holy Land tour. In the 1980’s, we would fly to Amman, Jordon, and the following morning travel by bus to the rose city of Petra. We were returning one evening from Petra and I was sitting in the front of the bus. By legs and feet were sore. I remember putting my feet up in the rail. Suddenly the bus driver began screaming, saying something to the tour guide in the Jordanian language. The guide immediately said, “You must put your feel down immediately.” I said, “What’s the deal?” He said, “Just put your feet down!” Later he explained to me that in the Arab world it is the worse type of insult to show the bottom of the shoes or your feet. In fact it is such an insult that a person will fight you physically, if you dishonor them by showing your feet. One Arab friend said, “It is like telling someone that, ‘you are nothing but dust…you are worthless…you are cheap in my eyes…'”

Years ago when the stature of Saddam Hussein was pulled down in the town square of Bagdad, on the 21st day of the war with American troops entered the city, the young people poured into the streets and began taking their shoes and pounding the face of the metal image, screaming and yelling insults to the lifeless pile of metal. You may recall when President Bush visited Iraq prior to his leaving office an Iraqi journalist in the audience threw both shoes at the president. American’s thought the act was just an angry Iraqi getting attention, but in the Arab world the man leveled the lowest form of insult to the American president.

Now let’s fast forward to a recent event that did not make secular news (as usual) but made headlines in Israel. A photograph was released that was taken in the Oval Office of President Obama talking on the phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama had both feet on his desk, and the photograph showed the soles of the President’s feet in the center of the photo, and the caption mentioned he was speaking with the Israeli Prime Minister.

In the United States we would not think anything of the photograph, but simply say, “He was just chilling out.” I have often put my feet up when I was tired or chilling out, but since my incident in Jordan years ago I am more careful, especially NOT to do so in or near anyone from the Middle East. When this photo was printed in Israel, the Jewish population became very, and I mean very upset. This is because the Arab’s were laughing and saying that Obama (having a Muslim background) knew what it meant to show the bottom of his feet and he was letting Netanyahu know, “This is what I think of you.” It is know among those in the inner circle in Israel that both Obama and Hillary Clinton do not personally care at all for Mr. Netanyahu. There are several reasons for this that I will not explain, one of which goes back to the event surrounding Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

If the president had NOT been talking to a person from the Middle East, but was calling the L.A. Lakers congratulating them, not much would have been said. However, the Arabic speaking multitudes read this photo as an insult to the Israeli leader. Some would suggest that Obama did not realize what was occurring. However, why was there a photographer present, why were his feet on the desk and why did the White House allow the photo to be released to the public. I suggest the president knew exactly what he was doing, just like he knew what he was doing when he covered up the emblems for the name of Jesus at Georgetown University, and he ignored the National Day of Prayer.

I would suggest however, that as the leader of the free world, he should learn the customs of nations before meeting with the leaders…like bowing before the King of Saudi Arabia, which occurred in Saudi recently. Protocol allows you to bow before Japanese leaders but in Islam you bow before no man but Allah (God), or you are showing you are a servant (slave) to that person.

While only time will tell, the Israelis are beginning to feel that this is the first administration that will not stand with them in the event of a major war with a nation such as Iran. In fact, it was reported on the Drudge Report that recently a person in the administration contacted Benjamin Netanyahu and said, “We are going to change the world…do not interfere!” We were promised “change” but were never told what that “change” would be. Perhaps the Egyptians said it best, when a metal plaque was produced recently in Cairo which announced that “Obama was the new King Tut – the King of the world.” Only time will tell if Israel will be punished for not following the plans of a New World Order. In the mean time I suggest that the leader of the free world get his feet off the “people’s” desk and put them on the floor. This is my humble opinion.