Here’s the photo of Netanyahu’s Iranian bomb / red line image, from his speech today to the UN:
And here’s a version by David Ferguson (Snicker Snack Baby):
UPDATE: A commenter asked why I thought the cartoon was interesting; I hope that others perceive some of this themselves — a joke isn’t really funny if it has to be explained, and a picture is worth a thousand words — but for those who are curious, my thinking is that this cartoon works well because it packs in so many mutually interacting messages (whether or not intended by the author).
1. First, focusing on Netanyahu, imagine Netanyahu actually displaying this cartoon in the UN, especially with the serious facial expression that he’s wearing. That’s pretty absurd, given the meltdown that it would generate, which is a bit funny by itself.
2. But at the same time, while it’s absurd that Netanyahu would show the cartoon, the cartoon likely captures pretty well (I can’t read Netanyahu’s mind, but it’s a good inference) what Netanyahu is actually thinking. To him Ahmadinejad and much of the rest of Iran’s hardliners are exactly the Turban Bomb Mohammeds that the cartoon depicts.
3. What’s more, deep down inside (or maybe not so deep) Netanyahu and many other Israelis, especially ones on Netanyahu’s side of the political divide, likely secretly wish that someone would indeed go into the UN chamber and show the Turban Bomb Mohammed = Iran cartoon. In a sense, the cartoon is thus a picture of what might be (again, no-one knows, but political cartoons like this aren’t about conveying provable information) Netanyahu’s dream the night before his speech: That he might go into the UN and thumb his nose at his enemies this way.
4. Now let’s set aside Netanyahu, and focus just on the cartoon. I’m confident that most Muslims have no wish to be Turban Bomb Mohammeds themselves — most of nearly any large religious group just want to live calm, peaceful lives, and in fact do indeed lead such lives. Many Muslims don’t support terrorist attacks on civilians, or even nonterrorist wars against Israel and America.
But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fits the cartoon (in attitude, not appearance) quite nicely. He’s literally trying to develop a bomb. And his past rhetoric suggests that he might well light the figurative fuse on it. As I mentioned in item 2, Turban Bomb Mohammed is a pretty good representation of him. And there’s even a bonus subtwist in the form of his name, which as I understand it is a derivative of Mohammed, though the cartoon would work well even without that.
5. What’s more, the Iranian hardliners were among those who went apoplectic over the Mohammed cartoons — this cartoon tweaks them by using the same image to refer to them, and in a context where some of the criticisms of the original cartoon (that it doesn’t fairly represent the great bulk of peaceful Muslims) are inapt (see item 4).
6. Finally — and this is likely in the eye of the beholder — the Mohammed cartoon, used in this context, very much reminded me of a young (more Ahmadinejad-like) version of the iconic photos of Khomeini, the symbol of modern Iranian Muslim extremism.
Political cartoons, I think, are especially interesting when there’s a lot going on conceptually in a very limited visual composition. This one, it seems to me, is an especially good example of that.