It is known that Jews – especially Israelis – like to argue. Perhaps they inherited it from Abraham, who is described in Genesis as pleading with God to save righteous people living in Sodom – even only 10 people. But there wasn’t even a quorum of upright people there, so the sinful place was destroyed.
On Wednesday night, two students at Tel Aviv University (TAU) – Gil Peled and Assaph Hannany — made an impressive achievement. They won the World Universities Debating Championship for student in which English is a second language (ESL) , for the third time in a row. Some 30 debaters from seven Israeli universities competed in the contest. The Israelis triumphed over students from the best universities in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge and more.
Other debating competitors came from countries that have no direct contact with Israel including Syria, Bangladesh and Malaysia.
In addition to the win, Lior Sokol and Tamar Ben Meir of Hebrew University in Jerusalem reached the quarter-finals of the open competition for English speakers and ESL participants. The event was hosted by the Korean debate circuit, held online because of the COVID-10 pandemic.
The final stage dealt with a debate on the question “Should governments plan their policies for the long term or focus on the current generation?” The Israeli students excelled in a convincing and reasoned answer to the question and scored the most points, leading to their being crowned as the world champions in the ESL category.
It was not the first time Israel has won; Hadar Goldberg and Maya Saveliev from the Open University won in 2020 and Roy Schulman and Elaye Karstadt of the Hebrew University in 2019.
The World University Debate Championship was established way back in 1981. Its graduates include Irish novelist Sally Rooney (Normal People), Jake Sullivan (who worked in the Obama administration as deputy assistant to the president and was the US vice presiden’’s national security advisor when Joseph Biden was vice president) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz