The Olive Branch

The use of the ‘olive branch’ is one of many words that are used as mental blinders. One would think that newspapers care a great deal about the olive branch and all the meanings that comes with it, says Iqbal Tamimi.

Hypocrisy and manipulating language in journalism

Today the same ‘olive branch’ expression is used again in an article published on the British newspaper the Daily Mail. It reads ‘Brown extends olive branch to Mugabe with plans to readmit Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth’.

I am not talking here about the content of the article but for using the ‘olive branch’ as a symbol or a substitute for the idea of peace which sometimes can be translated as a compromise. The use of the ‘olive branch’ is one of many words that are used as mental blinders. One would think that the Daily Mail cares a great deal about the olive branch and all the meanings that comes with it, and that’s why it makes sure that it highlights politicians’ attempts to protect such great symbol.

Trying to search where has the Daily mail used this expression and in what events, reveals the fact that it has never used it in any matter that has to do with protecting this symbol by protecting the tree itself, or where these branches are grown and where they are in need of protection. Let’s have a look at the titles published by the same news paper where the olive branch has been used:

Obama offers Iran olive branch during his first foreign TV interview as president… on an Arab station .

Police offer olive branch to Government over pay rise battle.

Barclays’ holders take up its £500m olive branch.

Magnier buys Sheik filly as olive branch to arch rival.

Brown’s olive branch: Britain could cut nuclear warheads in global deal to persuade rogue states to give up arms race.

‘We’ll talk to the Taliban’: Obama admits U.S. isn’t winning Afghan war and offers olive branch to insurgents.

Iran rejects Barack Obama’s olive branch, claiming his policies do not represent change.

We’ll talk to America about everything, says Cuban leader Raul Castro after Obama olive branch.

Wenger offers an olive branch in Aragones racism row as Gunners travel to Istanbul.

Mourinho offers olive branch to Wenger.

Caborn offers olive branch over FA job.

Woooo, lots of olive branches have been offered on the Daily mail. The number of times the olive branch has been used in the titles shows how fascinated its journalists are with offering olive tree branches that if such generosity was going on in real life we would have had to worry about the possibility of the tree becoming extinct.

All that would have been bypassed if they have offered as much as one title to protecting the tree or stopping uprooting of olive trees in Palestine, the home land of the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ himself who mentioned the olive in the bible 140 times. But surprise surprise, not even one title in the Daily Mail about the crimes committed against this tree, or about the uprooting of olive trees by the occupying forces of the Israeli state.

The use of the olive branch in journalistic language has the purpose of directing our minds so that the terminology itself obtains an emotional response from the listener. This term besides many other short phrases used heavily by the media became part of our lexicon and have been utilised for the purpose of influencing our opinions to obtain our moral backing of some political or ideological goals.

The Daily Mail along with many media outlets seems to down play the following International laws and rules when covering the news and the uprooting of millions of olive trees by the Israeli occupying authorities and denying the Palestinians access to their trees:

• Uprooting of Olive trees violates the trade policies of the Paris protocols of 1954 which calls for ‘free access for Palestinian goods to the Israeli market and vice versa.’ The curfews and the uprooting are a clear violation of this clear security.

• Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention indicated that: Extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Is a grave breach of the Convention.

• The uprooting and the closures are a clear violation of Article 23 of The Hague Convention Art. 23 of the Hague Convention of 1907 also provides: In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden to destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.

• Article 33 prohibits collective punishment, and land levelling and property destruction carried out by Israeli forces are collective punishments. The article states: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

“Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

• Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides that “any destruction by the Occupying power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or other public authorities or social or cooperative organizations is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Israeli government has failed to prove the necessity of uprooting the trees.

• Article 147 of the Connection considers “extensive destruction and appropriate of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” as a grave breach of the Convention and thus constitute a war crime. In addition, the uprooting of trees is a form of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. The Israeli Defence Force uproots trees without warning, and without enabling the farmers to go to court to appeal the decision. In addition, when their trees are uprooted the farmers never receive any compensation for their losses.

• Uprooting and Land levelling also contradict the international covenant on Economics, Social or Cultural Rights. Article 1 of the Covenant states that “in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

The use of linguistic instruments of persuasion is the most sophisticated field of psychological influence utilised in basic journalistic communication that became part of the “public discourse”. But I hope that journalists will not abandon their professionalism and ethics when they use such tool without contributing to the real issues that have been sprouting from the source, otherwise we will end up with expressions and language that have nothing to do with its implementation.

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