The claim: the Middle East was at peace under Trump and in a war zone under Biden
After 11 days of deadly conflict, Israel and Hamas entered into a ceasefire on May 21. leaders work for peace on the ground, opponents took the opportunity to criticize the Biden administration.
A widely shared meme uses a photo of a Trump administration diplomatic event alongside a photo of an apparent war zone to compare the state of the Middle East under the Trump and Biden administrations.
“It was 240 days ago”, the meme legends the top photo. The bottom photo is captioned “THIS IS NOW …”
The top photo shows President Donald Trump smiling during a signing ceremony with leaders of several Middle Eastern countries. The bottom photo shows what appears to be a devastating scene with smoke in the air and debris littering the ground.
The logo of “Ridin ‘with BidenA popular online group for Biden supporters appears in the bottom image. The meme does not say whether it was referring to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians or the conflict in the Middle East in general.
USA TODAY has contacted several Facebook users who posted the meme for comment. Facebook user Georgia Michael responded that she posted the meme “to highlight the differences between Trump and Biden and how that relates to the conflict in the Middle East.”
But the photos of the meme don’t show recent events, and the second image isn’t a war zone at all.
Top photo: Trump with leaders of Israel, UAE and Bahrain
Trump’s photo was taken on September 15 at the White House with leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The image was taken by White House photographer Tia Dufour and is available on Getty Images.
Checking the facts:Photo of Palestinian child in tears not from recent Israeli airstrikes
At the signing ceremony, the leaders agreed to “normalize relations” between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The agreement was a major geopolitical shift in the Middle East in which the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain formalized their diplomatic relations with Israel. Historically, many Arab countries in the region have avoided such agreements to show their support for the Palestinian state.
Bottom photo: the consequences of the explosion in the port of Beirut
The bottom photo used to criticize Biden was actually taken over a month before the premiere. The image, available on Getty Images, captures the consequences of a tragic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanese photographer Marwan Tahtah took the photo on August 4 after a deadly explosion devastated the city.
At the time, Trump was still in office.
Lebanese officials say, the explosion probably occurred when a fire ignited 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port since 2013. The explosion that killed at least 160 people and injured thousands leads to international charges of negligence and corruption. Less than a week after the explosion, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned.
Following the explosion, USA TODAY demystified the false claim that the explosion was caused by an Israeli attack.
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate this meme FALSE. The image presented as proof of Middle East peace under Trump does not implicate the Palestinians. And the image used to refer to the recent conflict in the Middle East was actually taken in Bierut after a port explosion in August. The image predates the one used to refer to the Trump administration’s foreign policy and has nothing to do with Biden or his presidency.
Our sources of fact-checking:
- USA TODAY, May 24 Blinken visits Middle East as Biden administration lowers expectations on Israeli-Palestinian peace process
- Ridin ‘With Biden, accessed May 29 Facebook page
- Getty Images, September 15, 2020, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain Standardization Agreement with Israel
- USA TODAY, September 15 Israel signs agreements with UAE, Bahrain in White House ceremony
- Britannica, accessed May 29 Flag of United Arab Emirates
- Britannica, accessed May 29 Flag of the Palestine Liberation Organization
- Frankly, May 13 Facebook message
- Getty Images, August 4, 2020, Massive explosion near the Beirut port area
- USA TODAY, August 5, 2020, What we know about the massive explosion in Beirut that killed at least 135 people, injured thousands
- USA TODAY, August 7, 2020, President of Lebanon: Beirut explosion due to negligence or missile, bomb
- USA TODAY, August 10, 2020, Lebanese PM resigns amid protests over port blast, says corruption has ‘crippled’ state
- USA TODAY, August 6, 2020, Fact check: there is no evidence that the Beirut explosion was an Israeli attack
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Our fact-checking work is funded in part by a grant from Facebook.