Netanyahu Bombs at the U.N.

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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