A victory that's hard to debate- Tel Aviv University debate team on Sunday made an impressive achievement when it won the world championship in debate for universities held in Istanbul. The Israeli team managed to beat three other groups from the Netherlands, Malaysia and an Israeli team from University of Haifa.
The team members, Yoni Cohen-Idov and Uri Merhav, won the finals for non-native English speakers after losing the title during the European championship last summer.
During the final round, Cohen-Idov and Merhav were asked to debate in favor of "banning the positive depiction of war criminals in the media", while in the semi-finals they argued the question of whether to allow prisoners to raise their kids in prison.
In the quarter-finals the two debated banning advertisement of treatments to "cure" homosexuality.
The world championship in debate for universities is held annually in different universities and is considered one of the largest student events in the world, with over 1,000 participants from some 150 universities. In 2002, the Hebrew university delegation won the coveted title.
Winners Yoni Cohen-Idov and Uri Merhav (Photo: Tal Shahar)
The competition is held in two separate categories; debate for native English speakers and non-native English speakers. The two Israeli teams took part in the latter group together with 30 other teams. The winning team in the native-English category hailed from The University of Sydney in Australia, who managed to defeat delegations from top academic institutions such as Oxford and Harvard.
Five Israelis were nominated among the ten best non-native English speakers. Cohen-Idov, an undergraduate history student ranked forth, Merhav, an undergraduate physics student came in at number five and Yael Betzalel, a graduate gender-studies student ranked seventh. Two other Israeli participants from the University of Haifa came in at ninth and tenth places.
After returning to Israel, Cohen-Idov told Ynet:" We were raffled to take sides on a very difficult subject, which is banning the positive depiction of war-criminals. We gave a winning argument by saying that freedom of speech must be curbed when there is a probability it might lead to incitement and violence."
Despite the large presence of students from Muslim countries, Cohen-Idov said that there was no tension felt between the delegations. "The debate community is unique in that it embodies all the clichés. No one cares about nationality or race. Even members of the delegations from Qatar, Iraq and Malaysia acted as our friends and congratulated us."
Initial information for this report received via Red Email