Israel's ambassador to Brazil tried to hide his non-kosher meal - and it failed spectacularly

LobsterJustin Sullivan / Getty Images
  • Israel's ambassador to Brazil, Yossi Shelley, shared a meal with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday, before the Brazil vs. Peru soccer match.
  • The meal included lobster, a non-kosher food, so the Israeli mission tweeted a photo of the offending crustacean hastily scribbled out - inviting plenty of ridicule.
  • Shelley insisted that he didn't eat the lobster. "I don't eat those things and definitely don't order them," he said, according to the Times of Israel. 
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On Sunday, the Israeli embassy in Brazil tweeted a photo of Israeli ambassador Yossi Shelley and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro enjoying a meal before the Brazil vs. Peru soccer match. It looks like a normal, chummy Twitter photo, except for some odd black smudges - amateur photo editing to hide the lobster on their plates.

Lobster isn't kosher, so the lunch was apparently edited to avoid offending the embassy's more observant Twitter followers. But the hastily-scribbled black marks hide very little, which didn't go unnoticed on Twitter.

"Israeli Ambassador to Brazil ate lobster (strictly non-kosher) with Bolsonaro. But luckily the Israeli Embassy was there to help. Applying Mossad Level cover up skills to the photos it tweeted - so nobody got offended back home," Ben Judah tweeted.

Journalist Noa Landau pointed out the gaffe in a tweet in Hebrew, and Twitter users responded with a little photo editing of their own.

And some took the crustacean erasure to other media.

The ambassador later said that he didn't eat lobster, and got salmon instead. Shelley told reporters, "all sorts of foods were served, including salmon. I didn't eat what was served to avoid offending the participants. For the same reason I blackened the photo so that it wouldn't be understood otherwise, God forbid," according to the Times of Israel.

He explained in a separate television interview that he ate salmon instead, which has "a similar color." 

"I don't eat those things and definitely don't order them," he said.

The Washington Post reports that Shelley enjoys a close relationship with Bolsonaro, and was the first foreign diplomat that Bolsonaro met with after his electoral victory in October 2018. Shelley, a former businessman, has served in his post since January 2017, according to The Times of Israel. Bolsonaro awarded Shelley the National Order of the Southern Cross, Brazil's highest honor awarded to foreigners. 

Since Bolsonaro's election, Israel and Brazil have enjoyed particularly close relations; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro's inauguration, making him the first Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil, The Washington Post reports. 

Bolsonaro has built a reputation as the "Trump of the Tropics" for his tough stances on gun rights and immigration, at one point calling immigrants from poor countries "the scum of the world," and for running a freewheeling campaign that sought to bypass mainstream media, according to the Associated Press.

The Israeli embassy in Brazil and Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

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