Claim: A French newspaper has pulled a caricature of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is portrayed as a devil.

Fact: The caricature in question was not published by a newspaper called La Presse. It was first published by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency in 2014 as a response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza that year and was credited to Abbas Goodarzi. Secondly, contrary to the claim, the French-language newspaper La Presse operates in Canada, not France. A newspaper by the same name, La Presse, was once indeed based in France but closed down in 1953.

On 23 May 2024, Soch Fact Check received an image on WhatsApp, which appears to be a screenshot of another WhatsApp message, containing an image with some text.

The image depicts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a devilish tail, wearing a suit, tie, and shoes — all blood-red — and looking towards his left, while drinking red liquid (implied to be blood) from a transparent container marked “Gaza”.

The picture also bears the text, “This caricature photo was published by the French newspaper la presse and then it was pulled down after the pressure of the Zionist lobby. Please help to spread it widely.”

The signature of an artist is visible on the bottom-right corner of the viral image and some text, perhaps a name, written in a right-to-left language — possibly in Urdu, Arabic or Persian — on the bottom-left corner. However, since it looks like the picture is cropped, the name is not fully legible.

A text message accompanying the picture says:

“Remember when Charlie Hebdo created a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad SAW. All corners of The Muslim world demanded the image be removed. Macron said it was a spirited freedom of speech. Today they are crying over this caricature. We must all help to promote and uphold the freedom rights and publish this image everywhere.”

What’s going on in Gaza?

On 7 October 2023, Hamas attacked (archive) a border area of Israel, sparking the ongoing war (archive) in Palestine.

Over 34,900 Palestinians have been killed and more than 78,500 injured, as per an 10 May 2024 update (archive) by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). At least 1,200 Israelis have been killed and upwards of 5,400 injured, while 132 Israeli hostages remain in captivity.

Ever since the 7 October attack, a flood of misleading, old, and out-of-context pictures, videos, and claims have surfaced in the media.

On 29 December 2023, South Africa invoked (archive) the Genocide Convention — officially the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide — against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), requesting the Court to indicate provisional measures over the war in the Gaza Strip.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reverse-searched the image and found multiple social media posts, such as this one (archive) from 1 May 2024, that carried a larger, uncropped version of the picture.

On the top-right corner, just above where the image in the WhatsApp message has been cropped, we observed the text “TASNIM NEWS” — also called “خبرگزاری تسنیم” in Persian — as it appears on the bottom-left corner. Moreover, it also identifies the designer as Abbas Goodarzi.

TinEye Reverse Image Search led us to a website called “تلخندک [Talkhandak]”, which has the descriptor, “کاریکاتورهای عباس گودرزی [Cartoons by Abbas Goodarzi],” as well as two Iranian websites, Parsine and Tasnim News Agency.

Talkhandak is the website of Abbas Goodarzi, who has a Bachelor’s degree in painting and visual arts from Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman (SBUK), Iran. The artist has had multiple exhibitions across the country and has taught art at the university level.

The image available on Parsine though is slightly different: Netanyahu is looking and pointing towards his left with his left hand, has bloodshot eyes, is wearing a white shirt, black tie, and a bluish grey suit, and has blood splattered across his clothes and face. This version of the caricature is available on page 3 (archive) of Goodarzi’s website, Talkhandak.

The one published by Tasnim News Agency is an exact match of the viral visual we received on WhatsApp.

The publication dates of these visuals — 21 October 2013 and 23 July 2014 — on Parsine and Tasnim News Agency are given according to the Iranian calendar, which we converted to the Gregorian calendar using this tool. The image on Parsine appears to be a broken link sourced from Talkhandak, archived here, while Tasnim News Agency describes the image as “نتانیاهوی خون آشام [Netanyahu the vampire]”.

Moreover, Google Lens led us to The Palestine Poster Project Archives (PPPA), which states that the image “Vampire Netanyahu” was designed by Abbas Goodarzi and published by Tasnim News Agency in 2014.

The PPPA has included the visual in its special collection titled “Operation Protective Edge – 8 Aug 2014,” which is a reference to Israel’s war on Gaza that occurred between 7 July and 26 August 2014 and that left over 2,000 Palestinians dead and more than 10,000 wounded, according to Amnesty International.

Interestingly, the first 10 pages of Goodarzi’s website do not feature the viral image that we received on WhatsApp even though it includes the artist’s signature. His online portfolio only has the version that was also published by Parsine. Photos available on his Facebook profile also do not include the viral caricature.

The viral image is neither recent nor did we find any evidence of it being published by a French newspaper. However, it remains unclear whether the caricature was indeed created by Goodarzi or if it is a different version of the original that was actually made by the artist.

Netanyahu’s caricature in La Presse

The accompanying text message, which mentions “French newspaper la presse”, “Charlie Hebdo”, and “[Emmanuel] Macron”, refers to a terrorist attack that took place on 7 January 2015 in Paris, France, on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo as response to the paper publishing caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Currently, there is no newspaper named La Presse operating in France. There was one, which started in 1836, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, and was shut down in 1953, as indicated by its last issue available on Gallica, the free digital library of the country’s national library, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).

However, there is, in fact, a French-language newspaper named La Presse headquartered in Montreal, Canada, that published a caricature of Benjamin Netanyahu in March 2024. It was criticised by many, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the embassy of Israel in Canada, as being antisemitic.

That cartoon, which was made by Serge Chapleau, depicted the Israeli PM as the vampire Count Orlok from “Nosferatu,” a silent film from 1922, as indicated by the text “Nosfenyahou, en route to Rafah” superimposed on it. It is entirely different from the viral caricature that we received on WhatsApp.

After receiving widespread criticism, the Canadian newspaper later pulled the caricature and apologised for publishing it.

La Presse Editor-in-Chief Stéphanie Grammond wrote a blog titled “Nos excuses [Our apologies]” on 20 March 2024, apologising for the publication of the caricature.

“The drawing focused on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is considering an offensive in the town of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, where many Palestinians have taken refuge. The drawing was intended to be a criticism of Mr Netanyahu’s policies. It targeted the Israeli government, not the Jewish people” she explained.

Grammond added that the portrayal of Netanyahu as Nosferatu was “unfortunate” after readers noted that the vampire in the movie was “used in Nazi propaganda during the Second World War”. She explained that Chapleau, the cartoonist, “specifies that he never intended to convey anti-Semitic remarks or harmful stereotypes”.


Soch Fact Check found that the claim has appeared here on Facebook, here on X (formerly Twitter), and here and here on LinkedIn.

Conclusion: The image in question was not published by a newspaper called La Presse, which operates in Canada, not France. The visual first appeared on Iran’s Tasnim News Agency in 2014, as a response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza that year, and was credited to Abbas Goodarzi. However, Soch Fact Check could not verify whether it was actually created by Goodarzi as the artist’s website and social media feature a slightly different version of the same caricature.

Background image in cover photo: Netanyahu

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