Netanyahu's Cartoon Bomb at UN Sparks Media Frenzy

From pundits and news websites to 'twitterati' and memes, Bibi's bomb draws good, bad and ugly reactions.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya

Benjamin Netanyahu has proved in his UN speeches time and again there are three things he likes best: history, lecturing and props. And when it comes to leaving a lasting impression, the props must be his favorite.

Pundits and the blogosphere instantly went crazy with memes of the Israeli prime minister's diagram depicting the cartoonish bomb on which he literally drew the famous "red line" for Iran.

There was "Bibi Dylan" with the crudely Photoshopped singer holding Netanyahu's bomb diagram. There was Netanyahu, holding a picture of Daffy Duck's head exploding.

The Atlantic magazine correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg defined Netanyahu's cartoonish bomb as the Israeli leader's "Clint Eastwood chair," referring to the film star's awkward impromptu speech at the Republican National Convention in August, in which he addressed the empty chair symbolizing U.S. President Barack Obama. Other "twitterati" wondered where the bomb was taken from - Super Mario? Daffy Duck? Spy vs Spy?

The Washington Post ran an op-ed by Alexandra Petri, who admitted she is a fan of "lateralization-of-concept jokes," but wondered what Netanyahu's motivation was. "Was this a poor choice of a ridiculous-looking, over-simplified bomb cartoon... Or was it a calculated choice… in order to create the one indelible image of the afternoon that everyone would be talking about?"

If the latter was indeed Netanyahu's motivation, he succeeded. The Israeli PM was featured with his bomb diagram and red marker on every possible web page, including in a large image on Fox News' website, accompanied by a large headline reading: "Get it?"

The Wall Street Journal compared Netanyahu, with his diagram, to the Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev, who banged his shoe on the table at the UN.

There were also positive reactions. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in a statement, "I join in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for a Middle East of progress and peace. And I join his urgent call to prevent the gravest threat to that vision — a nuclear-armed Iran. I, like the rest of the American people, applaud the bravery of the people of Israel and stand with them in these dangerous times. The designs of the Iranian regime are a threat to America, Israel, and our friends and allies around the world.”

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer praised in his Twitter account Netanyahu's use of the cartoonish bomb as "one of the most effective, gripping uses of a chart I've ever seen. Is the world listening??"

Meanwhile, Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan told Fox News that "the best way to prevent war [with Iran] is to be resolved, is to have peace through strength, is not to gut your military, which is what the president is doing."

He added, "I also don't think the president is speaking with credibility. And when he talks about all options being on the table because the administration sends mixed signals on this front and therefore we are not seeing this as credible. I fear that the result of the Obama foreign policy is to project weakness, complicity, moral equivocation abroad. And look at the results: Iran is four years closer toward a nuclear weapon."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged "all responsible nations to stand with us against a nuclear Iran," adding that "Prime Minister Netanyahu cited the success of the red line drawn with regards to the closure of the Straits of Hormuz. We must therefore learn from such successes and make clear to the Iranian regime that there is a red line that we will not permit them to cross."

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for delivering "a harsh and divisive speech, which once again included false charges against Israel of racism, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution and war crimes and alleged Israeli government collusion with anti-Palestinian violence carried out by extremist Israelis."

The organization praised Netanyahu, saying he had "laid out in detail and even used a very simple but quite effective graphic to demonstrate to the international community the basic reasons why it is crucial to intensify international action to stop Iran’s accelerating nuclear weapons program."

The 'Bibi Dylan' meme by Ido Kenan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illustrating the 'red line' for Iran’s nuclear capacity, at the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 27, 2012.Credit: Reuters
A'meme' of Bugs Bunny created from Netanyahu's graphic, used at UN General Assembly, by Ido Keinan.

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