Netanyahu Bombs at the U.N.

If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were a stand-up comic, he couldn’t have been funnier. Yet sadly for him, the visual aid he surprisingly introduced during his U.N. General Assembly speech last week, illustrating the serious need to draw a red line on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, was a dud. Perhaps because it may not have been produced by a trained graphic designer. For those who argue that graphic design is superfluous in the affairs of nations, this clip-art bomb cartoon perfectly set up Mr. Netanyahu, who leans toward pomposity, for media mockery.

The PM making a visual point

Making a similar point?

The Times of Israel wrote: “As quick as Road Runner racing through the desert, a small army of photo editing copycats have turned the image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presenting a cartoon bomb diagram to the United Nations General Assembly into a spoof of the Israeli leader.”

But was the point clearly made?

“Playing on classic Looney Tunes tales imagery, the mocking commentators presented Netanyahu as the bumbling Wile E. Coyote. The simplistic diagram that the prime minister meant as a stark reminder of the impending danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon instead drew comparisons to the bird-brained drawings of the Acme Corporation that never failed to disappoint Wile E. Coyote.”

The actual “Fat Man” A-bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945

And the Christian Science Monitor noted: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stole the spotlight at the United Nations General Assembly yesterday when he pulled out a comic book-like diagram of a bomb midway through his podium address, figuratively drawing the red line on the Iranian nuclear program that he has demanded from the US.”

So, what lesson should Mr.  Netanyahu take away from this misshap? Use better clip art? Never let a summer intern do a job that will be seen by the entire world? Bombs do not look like bowling balls anymore? Not all pictures are worth a thousand words? Or, if you’re a feisty world leader who is considering using visual aids in a tense situation with world shattering implications, take a deep breath, think twice, and call a graphic designer? They’ll give you a good price, I’m sure.

In fact, nuclear weapons are no laughing matter.


For more Steven Heller, check out Design Humor: The Art of Graphic Wit—one of the many Heller titles available at

7 thoughts on “Netanyahu Bombs at the U.N.

  1. Bob Ratynski

    This reminds me of the hapless Florida Democratic Party leader who thought that she could design an election ballot in the 2000 General Election and in the process inadvetantly helped elect George Bush. She didn’t save that much money in not employing a graphic artist. 

  2. steven heller

    Zafarrano: You are right in your ire. But let’s be frank. For his argument to be sidetracked and hijacked by such a stupid display, has less to say about his important message, which I agree with, and more to say about a curious arrogance or ignorance. Most of the world didn’t hear the words, they saw the picture. When fighting such a critical battle you don’t throw water balloons. The bottom line, however, is what he will do and what the U.S. will support. respectfully, SH
    Jimincoto: You’re shame is misplaced. Shame on Netanyahu for reducing such a very serious issue to a stupid drawing that everyone — and I didn’t call him a clown, just pompous — in places of import have agreed was a strategically flawed presentation. Do you actually think he did himself or Israel any favors. Get real.

  3. Big Boy

    He should have used regular matte board! He dented a corner which, with foam core, is too easy to do.
    I think the cartoon did more damage to his argument than any visual rhetorical help it might have provided. I wonder if his staff gave him a mushroom clould option which he, thankfully, did not use?

  4. jimincoto

    I agree with Zafarrano 100%. You have the audacity to call Mr. Netanyahu a pompous clown because his “visual aid” wasn’t designed by a “trained graphic designer,” while ignoring the rants of that Iranian monster who won’t rest until Israel is wiped off the face of the earth? So, Stephen, “what lesson did YOU take away from this “misshap?” Obviously none, since you think the presentation is more important than the message. What a pathetic commentary on your part. Shame, shame on you.

  5. Zafarrano

    OMG, The Israeli Prime Minister is cautioning the world on how to (possibly) avoid nuclear war — and the total destruction of Israel — and these clowns relate him to Wily Coyote? God help us — and you, Mr. Heller, for continuing the farce. Go and listen to the man (you obviously didn’t — — then let me know if you’re still laughing.