Daily TIP

Israeli judoka wins Olympic bronze; backed by crowd after Egyptian competitor refuses to shake his hand

Posted by Tip Staff - August 12, 2016


Israeli Or Sasson scored a bronze medal for Israel in the men’s over-100kg judo competition at the Olympic Games on Friday, the second medal for the country thus far. Fellow judoka Yarden Gerbi also won a bronze medal on Tuesday. Sasson’s victory came after an awkward exchange earlier in the day, when his Egyptian opponent, Islam el-Shahaby, refused to shake his hand after losing a preliminary match. The crowd stood with Israel and booed el-Shahaby’s unsportsmanlike snub.
This was not the first time Israelis have been denigrated at these Olympics. A Saudi athlete forfeited a first-round judo match on Sunday to avoid facing an Israeli. The Lebanese delegation refused to share a bus to the opening ceremony with the Israeli team, going as far as to physically block the entrance. In June, Syrian boxer Ala Ghasoun withdrew from an Olympic qualifying match against an Israeli, saying that fighting him “would mean that I, as an athlete, and Syria, as a state, recognize the state of Israel.”
This is at least the third straight Summer Olympics at which Israeli athletes have faced undue hostility from competitors. In Beijing in 2008, an Iranian swimmer withdrew from events in order to avoid sharing a pool with an Israeli, and during the 2012 games in London, the Lebanese judo team refused to even practice in view of the Israelis. Organizers had to erect a separation barrier to cater to their needs.

A prominent Iranian ayatollah condemned the state-sponsored executions of thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 as “the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic,” according to an audio recording recently released by his family, The Guardian reported on Thursday. The publication of the recording has prompted survivors and relatives of those killed to call on the Tehran regime to investigate the purge.
On the tape, the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri is heard criticizing the executions of leftists and sympathizers of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization, telling an audience of religious judges and prosecutors, “In my view, the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which the history will condemn us, has been committed at your hands, and they’ll write your names as criminals in the history.”
Previously thought of as a successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, Montazeri was the only senior Iranian official to speak out against the killings at the time. He wrote numerous letter to Khomeini condemning the executions, and was eventually placed under house arrest until his death in 2009.
The executions were precipitated by an MEK attack on Iran from Iraq during the war between the two nations. Montazeri, who believed that his own son was murdered by the MEK — which was designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe for many years — nonetheless suggested that the executions of the prisoners had been planned for a long time and that the attack simply provided the authorities with the pretext to carry them out.
“I haven’t been able to sleep and every night it occupies my mind for two to three hours,” Montazeri is heard saying in the recording. “What do you have to tell to the families?”
The ayatollah suggested that the number of people executed by the revolutionary government exceeded the number killed by the Shah of Iran, who was overthrown in 1979. When he was asked for his consent for the execution of 200 people, he retorted, “I don’t give permission at all. I am opposed even to a single person being executed.”
While executions of dissidents were common during the early years of the Islamic Republic, the summer of 1988 saw them carried out on a much larger scale. Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the execution of all prisoners who were considered apostates and refused to repent. Prisoners were brought before panels and asked a series of questions about their religious and political beliefs. Any prisoner who answered the brief series of questions incorrectly was executed. Many were buried in a mass unmarked grave near Tehran.
Amnesty International estimates that 4,500 people were killed by the state during the purge, while other groups have cited higher estimates.
Madyar Samienejad, an Norway-based activist for human rights in Iran, said that the recording of Montazeri serves as “historical evidence” for the executions. “Those who were involved in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners are still in power in Iran,” he added. “The high rate of executions in Iran today stems from the kind of mentality behind that massacre.”
One of those involved in the mass executions in 1988 was Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who three years ago was appointed Iran’s justice minister by President Hassan Rouhani. At the time, many activists questioned how the appointment was consistent with Rouhani’s reputation as a moderate. Executions in Iran have increased in each of the first three years of Rouhani’s tenure, reaching a total of 966 last year, the highest total in a decade.
Another human rights campaigner, Hadi Ghaemi of the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, called the recording “irrefutable proof” of “the arbitrary and horrifying nature of these executions that rise to crimes against humanity under international law.” (via TheTower.org)
The Gett smartphone app for on-demand, automatic taxi hailing is now integrated with the navigation app from Google Maps for iPhone and Android. Israel-based Gett launched the service with Google Maps in Britain a few months ago and is now launching simultaneously in Israel and Russia. The United States is the next planned location. The Gett option will appear when a user looks up driving, public transportation or walking directions. If the Gett app already is installed on the device, the user will see an estimated time to reach the desired destination by cab and an estimated fixed fare. Users can seamlessly open the Gett app, with the destination address automatically pre populated – ready for the driver to pick them up. If they do not have the Gett app installed, they will be redirected to the App store or to Google Play to download it. “The collaboration with Google Maps is another way in which Gett expands its customers’ accessibility to travel by taxi – through various channels and at any time,” said Mark Oun, Gett CEO for Israel. “We will keep on working with Google Maps in order to continue to improve the user’s experience – from ordering a cab to the ride itself,” Oun said. Founded in 2010, Gett is the largest international on-demand player by revenues. It is available 24/7 in 50 major cities, including New York, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tel Aviv. Over the past six months, Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett, and Gett acquired British black cab company Radio Taxis. (via Israel21c)

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