Daily TIP

Women’s chess champion boycotts tournament in Iran

Posted by Tip Staff - February 24, 2017
Absent, but not forgotten. The Women’s World Chess Championship is currently taking place in Iran from February 10th to March 5th—and the reigning American female chess champion is conspicuously absent. U.S. chess phenom Nazi Paikidize-Barnes, 22, made headlines last year when she said she would rather boycott the world chess championship in Tehran than subscribe to Islamic dress, “even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.”

“Some consider a hijab part of culture,” Paikidze-Barnes said in a statement announcing her decision. “But, I know that a lot of Iranian women are bravely protesting this forced law daily and risking a lot by doing so. That’s why I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression.”

All women in Iran are required to wear headscarves, a law that is enforced with an iron grip. About 40,000 cars were confiscated in the first half of 2015 because drivers or passengers were not wearing their headscarves properly. Many women were pulled over and beaten on the ground, only to be arrested afterwards.

Some Muslim women’s rights activists have pushed back in support of Paikidze-Barnes, with former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani describing an op-ed attacking the chess star as “tragic because it uses women to tell other women to shut up.” Nomani wrote against “Iran’s hijab fetish” in The Washington Post last October.

Nomani also previously co-wrote an op-ed with Arab female journalist Hala Arafa in December 2015, which challenged the idea that Islamic scriptures require women to wear head coverings. “To us, the ‘hijab’ is a symbol of an interpretation of Islam we reject that believes that women are a sexual distraction to men, who are weak, and thus must not be tempted by the sight of our hair. We don’t buy it. This ideology promotes a social attitude that absolves men of sexually harassing women and puts the onus on the victim to protect herself by covering up,” they wrote.

Out of the mouths of babes. The winning performance at a recent Palestinian youth dancing competition in Nablus called for violence against Israel and featured the lyrics “jihad is needed, pull the trigger,” the watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch reported Monday.

The event took place at the Yafa Cultural Center, which is funded by Germany, Norway, and the European Union itself. The winning dance was performed by 14-year-old Ru’a Ahmed Sa’id Hamdan to the song “Pull the Trigger,” which was previously broadcast on a Palestinian Authority television channel in 2010.

Hamdan and the competition’s top two runners-up received trophies bearing a map of “Palestine” that encompassed the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Incitement to violence against Israel is a recurring theme in music promoted by the Palestinian Authority. During the ruling Fatah party’s conference late last year, an official PA television channel repeatedly played a song calling “to free the state from the hands of the Zionists” and to “slice open the enemy’s chest, slice it.”

The New York Times reported in October 2015—at the start of the so-called “knife intifada”—that violent, “nationalistic” tracks were dominating Palestinian airwaves, with one young listener saying the tunes make him “boil inside” and prepare him to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. The songs feature lyrics such as “stab the Zionist and say God is great” and “say hello to being a martyr,” and their accompanying videos often contain graphic imagery.

Mayday. An Israeli fighter plane on Thursday shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as it flew from the Gaza Strip to the Mediterranean Sea.

The drone was intercepted before it entered Israeli airspace and landed harmlessly in the sea.

“The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so,” the military said in a statement.

No details were publicized about the size or design of the drone. Hamas is yet to release a statement regarding the incident, although it is widely reported the organisation was responsible for launching the drone.

Hamas has previously been suspected of launching UAVs towards Israel. Last September, the IDF intercepted a drone heading for Israeli territory. In June, a UAV crashed close to the Gaza border fence and drones were launched from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. Last year, Israeli authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle drone models and disassembled drone parts into Gaza via the postal system. (via BICOM)

Supermarket tomatoes often look a lot better than they taste. That’s because modern commercial tomatoes have gradually lost their flavor as breeders tinker with their shelf life, firmness and disease resistance. Now it seems that we can have our tomato and eat it, too. After a decade of research, a global team of scientists from Israel, the United States, China and Spain have identified the flavor components that contribute to the delicious taste of tomatoes, and the genes that code for the tomatoes’ flavor-enhancing chemicals. Their study, published January 27 in the journal Science, has made it possible to produce tomatoes with their good old flavor, without sacrificing the traits that make them attractive to consumers and longer-lasting for shipment around the world. Tomato fruit samples grown in Israel were sent to all participating research groups, each identifying different components. Through analysis of the chemistry of the tomatoes, researchers identified 13 compounds associated with good flavor. To study how to enhance the flavor in modern tomatoes, they studied gene variants called alleles and were able to identify the locations of the “good” alleles in the tomato genome that allow the production of compounds contributing to tastier tomatoes. After mapping genes that control synthesis of all the important chemicals, the researchers used genetic analysis to replace “bad” alleles in modern tomato varieties with the “good” alleles. (via Israel21c)

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