Israel wins ESL world title at debate tournament in Botswana
Debaters Michael Shapira and Meir Yarom, of the University of Haifa, named top English as a Second Language team after 12 rounds of debate.
By Riva Gold
Israel earned the title of world champions in the English as a Second Language division of the World University Debating Championships on Monday, for the second year in a row.
Debaters Michael Shapira and Meir Yarom, from the University of Haifa, were named top ESL team after 12 fierce rounds of debate at the competition.
Teams from across the world competed in the 10-day tournament, which was held this year at the University of Botswana in Gabarone. From foreign policy to internet privacy, Shapira and Yarom debated a wide range of topics before winning their title.
In the final round, which was streamed live on the internet, Haifa took on teams from Slovenia, Holland, and Malaysia to debate whether courts should break up consistently dominant political parties.
After a long deliberation, the judges awarded them the title with eight judges out of nine judges voting for their side.
This is the second consecutive year that Israel has won the title of ESL Champions, after Tel Aviv University students Yoni Cohen Idov and Uri Merhav scored the title at the World Championships in Turkey in 2010.
Israel was also successful in the tournament's parallel public speaking competition, where a student from the IDC Herzliya earned a coveted spot in the final round.
The World Debating Championships is the largest non-athletic student competition in the world, with roughly 600 teams competing. The event is dubbed by participants as the "Nerd Olympics."