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Will continue to send delegates. Prosor Photo: AP
Will continue to send delegates. Prosor Photo: AP
 
Crowd wasn't convinced. Booth Photo: AFP
Crowd wasn't convinced. Booth Photo: AFP
 
 

Israel wins Cambridge Uni debate

Despite hostile audience, Israeli team marks unexpected victory in debate titled 'Israel is rogue state,' hosted by prestigious British university

Yaniv Halili
Published: 10.25.10, 12:31 / Israel News

It's not every day that Israel marks a victory away from home, especially not on hostile grounds such as University of Cambridge in England. But on Thursday, Israel secured an unexpected triumph in the institution's prestigious debate club, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

 

The university's debate club is a forum that gathers regularly to discuss different topics relating to the academia and international media.

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Since its establishment in 1815, the debate club has hosted legendary figures such as Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama and Ronald Regan.

 

The Union Society that operates the club is considered as the birthplace of British elite, boasting many graduates who have pursued political careers in the Kingdom and abroad.

 

Last Thursday, the debate club hosted an event titled "Israel is a Rogue State."

 

The debate's starting point was that Israel is a problematic country, which does not obey international law.

 

Due to the preeminence of the hosting institution, The Israeli embassy in London decided to send representatives Ran Gidor, the embassy's political advisor and a Cambridge graduate, and Shiraz Maher, a former radical Islamist that has become an enthusiastic Israel supporter.

 

Harsh diatribe

The opposing side was represented by journalist and publicist Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

 

Booth, who is considered as one of the most prominent and outspoken pro-Palestinian activists in Britain, converted to Islam after visiting Iran six weeks prior to the event.

 

Thousands attended the debate, including Cambridge's senior academic staff, students and guests.

 

At first, it seemed the hall was overwhelmingly anti-Israel, as Booth and Mark McDonald, who heads the Labor party's Friends of Palestine & Middle East Association, engaged in a harsh diatribe against the Jewish State.

 

The event took a sharp turn when a few students from the pro-Palestinian camp raised pro-Israeli arguments during the discussion.

 

One of them told the audience that Israel gives political asylum to Darfuri refugees, while Egypt shoots them as they try to infiltrate the border, and that the Jewish State initiates internal probes over international violation, also noting Israel's liberal policies vis-à-vis gay and lesbian rights.

 

The student then pointed at Gidor and said, "Could you imagine China, Iran or even Britain sending a top diplomat to a discussion that defines Israel as a rogue state?"

 

After both sides concluded their arguments, the audience was asked to vote for the side that they deemed more persuasive.

 

Surprisingly, the Israeli side won with 74% of the votes, marking an important PR achievement in what could be considered one of Europe's main anti-Israeli strongholds.

 

Israel's Ambassador to London Ron Prosor said that the refusal to define Israel as "rogue state" has been reinforced by its acceptance at the University of Cambridge debate club.

 

Prosor added that Israel will continue to dispatch representatives to any event that attempts to tarnish Israel's reputation.

 

 

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