Pro-Israel magazine cover featuring Texas governor is fake

An image circulating online appears to show Texas Governor Greg Abbott featured on the front of a publication called "Israel Monthly" after he deployed state police to disperse pro-Palestinian protests at public universities in his state and called for arrests and expulsions of students involved. But the supposed magazine cover is an altered version of a 2013 issue of Texas Monthly, reverse image searches revealed.

"Greg Abbott…hero of Texas," says an April 26, 2024 post on X from far-right commentator Stew Peters, who has spread conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccines, Hawaii wildfires and other topics.

The purported "Israel Monthly" cover shows the Republican governor, who is paralyzed from the waist down, sitting in a wheelchair adorned with a chrome Star of David. He is resting a firearm on his shoulder.

Screenshot from X taken May 10, 2024

The image spread across X and other platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, as police in recent weeks have clashed with protesters demonstrating against the war in the Gaza Strip at the University of Texas at Austin and other colleges across the state. 

"These protesters belong in jail," Abbott, who years earlier signed a bill bolstering free speech protections on campuses for fear of conservative voices being stifled, wrote in an April 24 post on X. 

But despite his opposition to the protests and dismissal of calls for state schools to divest from weapons manufacturers who supply Israel, Abbott did not pose for the cover of "Israel Monthly."

The image is digitally manipulated -- and AFP found no evidence that a magazine with that name exists, either.

A reverse image search revealed the cover is an altered version of the October 2013 print edition of Texas Monthly, a monthly magazine headquartered in Austin (archived here). The original portrait shows Abbott in the same pose, but he is seated in a standard wheelchair, as opposed to one bearing the Star of David.

Screenshot from Texas Monthly taken May 10, 2024

AFP contacted Abbott's office for comment, but no response was forthcoming.

The magazine addressed the fake "Israel Monthly" issue in an April 30, 2024 article, calling it "a bizarre, doctored image of Texas Monthly's October 2013 cover" (archived here).

"The real cover featured a portrait Texas Monthly commissioned of Greg Abbott sitting in his wheelchair in a clearing, a gun propped over his shoulder, under the headline 'The Gov,' with an asterisk next to it leading to the words 'barring an unlikely occurrence,' as he was heavily favored to win reelection the following month," the article says.

"On X, the faux magazine's title, in a similar font to that of the genuine article, had been changed to 'Israel Monthly,' and one rim of Abbott's chair was decorated with a shiny chrome Star of David."

AFP previously debunked posts misrepresenting another old Texas Monthly cover as a photo of the wildfires that burned through the state in early 2024.

AFP has fact-checked other misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war here.

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