Netanyahu's bomb steals the show in his UN speech

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held up a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb during his speech at the UN, he set off an explosion of jokes and mockery but it also got plenty of attention.

The Bibi Bomb, as it's being called using Netanyahu's nickname, is the latest in a series of props used by the Israeli leader as he tries to keep the global spotlight on Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The image of Netanyahu and the diagram of a bomb with a lighted fuse was top news around the world. Headlines in Europe referred to Netanyahu's "bomb cartoon" and "comic strip."

"How much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it?" Netanyahu asked in his speech yesterday to the UN General Assembly. "Well, let me show you. I brought a diagram."

He proceeded to use a marker to draw a red line across what he said was a threshold that Iran was approaching and that Israel could not tolerate 90 per cent of the way to the uranium enrichment needed to make a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu is a fan of visual aids. At the UN in 2009, he waved the blueprints for the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. For a speech to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in March, he brought letters between the World Jewish Congress and the US government written during the Holocaust. Both documents were used to link the Nazis and the possible modern threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

He also uses props on domestic issues. At a news conference in Jerusalem earlier this year, Netanyahu drew a tree to symbolize the state of Israel. As he explained his economic vision, he added roots, fruit and leaves to represent different facets of society. Journalists in the room chuckled, but the diagram made headlines.

"It's a perfect and extreme example of how politicians and leaders find themselves adapting their modes of communication in order to get the maximum amount of publicity," said Gadi Wolfsfeld, a professor of political communication at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a college near Tel Aviv.

Within hours of Netanyahu's speech yesterday, the stunt was fodder for jokes. A "Bibibomb" hashtag made waves on Twitter. Memes of Netanyahu and the bomb diagram surfaced, with the weapon replaced with a photo of President Barack Obama and Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart mocked Netanyahu's simplistic drawing by saying: "Bibi, bubbe. What's with the Wile E. Coyote nuclear bomb?" Stewart then presented his solution to counter such a weapon by holding up a drawing of an equally cartoonish giant magnet.

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