What exactly was Benjamin Netanyahu doing with a cartoon diagram?
The United Nations, an institution that represents the most advanced attempt at democracy and international pluralism in the history of man, has had its share of global leaders finding unique ways to attract attention.
Former USSR Communist leader Nikita Khruschev once took off his shoe and started banging it on the table. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela held his nose during a speech to object to the fact the podium "smelled like sulfur because the devil has been here" (an apparent reference to President George W. Bush). Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell projected huge blowups of Iraqi nuclear facilities on the walls of the Security Council.
And on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu brought a cartoon.
While speaking about the importance of the U.S. drawing a "clear red line" that would trigger an attack on Iran unless they dismantled their nuclear program, a topic of much concern to Israelis of late, Netanyahu whipped out a diagram to illustrate his point.
It was a simple drawing of a traditional cartoon bomb with its fuse lit; something a 'Looney Tunes' artist would sketch for Wile E. Coyote to lob in the Road Runner’s path, or what a grammar school teacher would use for a prop during a lesson.
Bibi, or one of his interns, perhaps, decided that this would be an excellent way to show the delegates and Excellencies of the United Nations General Assembly where exactly a red line should be drawn when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, a topic that Netanyahu dedicated much of his speech to.
He did this by literally taking a red marker and drawing a red line at the indicated “90 percent” mark on the stick-figure bomb.
The audience in the room --as well as other media types -- took to their keyboards and phones, and immediately a flurry of messages erupted in the blogosphere and Twitterverse.
On the plus side, Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin said it was a “powerful message” and the best way Bibi could get Obama’s attention. Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s former press secretary, said the chart was “one of the most effective, gripping, [sic] uses of a chart I’ve ever seen. Is the world listening??”
Among detractors, Jeff Goldberg, a correspondent for the Atlantic, tweeted that Netanyahu “officially has no idea what he’s doing,” and had turned “a serious issue into a joke.” Dylan Byers, a reporter for Politico, outright called it a “Looney Tunes” bomb.
Laura Rozen, a Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor, pointed out that this may have been Netanyahu’s way to “put the focus where it should be: on Iran’s program and not on Pres. Obama.”
Whether it was an enlightened and clear-voiced way of sending a message or a comment on the aggregate intellect of the U.N. leaders, Netanyahu’s bomb has provided arguably the most entertaining moment of the general debate thus far.
To see more comments on Netanyahu’s bomb, follow #Netanyahu on Twitter.