Bibi: The Middle East's Wile E. Coyote

By Jeffrey Goldberg

I just don't get it anymore. I know the prime minister of Israel, like many Israelis, sees an Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to his nation's existence. I know he's sincere in this belief. (I happen to share the belief.)  I also know that he's supposed to be a wonderful communicator. So why did he just pull out a Wile E. Coyote bomb drawing at the United Nations General Assembly? He insulted the intelligence of his audience (not just his audience in the hall, which quite frequently deserves to have its intelligence insulted, but his worldwide audience) and he turned the most serious issue facing the world today into something of a joke. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the impact of the bomb cartoon -- it is true that everyone is talking about it, after all. But not in a good way.

On the other hand, we know exactly where his red line is now. On the other other hand, he wants President Obama to take him seriously?

UPDATE: On Twitter a little while ago (you can follow me at @jeffreygoldberg if that's your thing) I wrote: "Netanyahu's bomb cartoon is the Middle East equivalent of Clint Eastwood's chair." I'm getting push-back on it, though why I don't know, since it's not as if the chair has helped Romney achieve very much. What I mean by this statement is that Netanyahu took the stage to discuss a deadly serious issue -- more serious than a presidential campaign, in fact -- and then turned that deadly serious issue into a cartoon. Literally, as Joe Biden would say. This is not a subject fit for cartoonish drawings of bombs. People are laughing at him in places where he can't afford to be laughed at -- I don't mean Twitter, where everyone is perpetually laughing at everyone else -- but in actual important offices of the United States government. Not good for his cause, and not good for the more general issue of focusing the world's attention on this threat.  

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/bibi-the-middle-easts-wile-e-coyote/262965/