Old far-right rally photo doctored to add Israeli flag

An image circulating online appears to show demonstrators carrying the Israeli flag alongside Nazi and Confederate banners as protests about Israel's war with Hamas flare up on university campuses across the United States. But the photo is altered; the original depicts a 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and includes no Israeli flags.

"Interesting combination of flags," says an April 28, 2024 post from an X account called "Lord Bebo," which AFP has previously fact-checked for spreading disinformation.

The post includes an image of men carrying Confederate, Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" and Nazi banners. One of them appears to be holding an Israeli flag.

<span>Screenshot from X taken April 29, 2024</span>
Screenshot from X taken April 29, 2024

The picture rocketed across X as protests over Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip swept US college campuses, including Columbia University in New York.

But the photo is altered, reverse image searches show.

Anthony Crider, a professor of astrophysics at Elon University who takes pictures at protests, captured the image during the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (archived here and here).

There is no flag of Israel in the original.

Charlottesville "Unite the Right" Rally
Charlottesville "Unite the Right" Rally

"Alt-right members preparing to enter Emancipation Park holding Nazi, Confederate Battle, Gadsden 'Don't Tread on Me,' League of the South, and Thor's Hammer flags," says Crider's caption on the photo-sharing website Flickr, where the picture is dated August 12, 2017.

One woman died at the infamous march of torch-wielding white supremacists after a car plowed into a crowd as the rallygoers clashed with counter-protesters. Among other racist and anti-Semitic chants, demonstrators shouted: "Jews will not replace us."

Crider confirmed to AFP that his original photo from Charlottesville did not include Israeli flags, adding that he did not recall seeing them at the far-right rally. He said in an April 29, 2024 email that he included the picture's metadata on Flickr so viewers could verify its authenticity.

AFP has debunked other false claims about the Israel-Hamas war here.

April 30, 2024 This article was updated in the 10th paragraph to add comments from Anthony Crider.