SELLA AND OMER Nevo 311.
(photo credit: Nevo brothers)
In day-to-day life, the Israeli debating style typically consists of raising the
volume of one’s voice to drown out your opponents and give them no choice but to
listen to your monologue. When that fails, yell louder.
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brothers Omer, 26, and Sella Nevo, 22, won the World University Debating
Championships for English as a second language on Tuesday, the third time that
Israelis have won the title in the past three years.
The Nevo brothers,
who study at Tel Aviv University, join champions Meir Yarom and Michael Shapiro,
who took home the title
for the University of Haifa in 2011 in Botswana, and
Yoni Cohen- Idov and Uri Merha of Tel Aviv University, who won the 2010
No other country has had students from its
universities win the competition three years in a row.
While the Nevo
brothers could not be reached in Manila, Philippines, by The Jerusalem Post on
Wednesday, Cohen-Idov, who now serves as the Tel Aviv University Student Union
debate team coach, described how the natural Israeli penchant for arguing, a
national pastime of sorts, is not necessarily an asset in debate
“People think, ‘Oh we’re Israelis; we have to win because
we argue all the time.’ But really we win it in spite of this. Also, in spite of
the stereotype, Israelis can be very good at listening and understanding people;
they just have to learn how to do it.”
Cohen-Idov said that coaching
Israelis in debate requires a lot of “toning down” language – for instance,
teaching them to avoid saying things like “never” or “under no circumstances,”
which can sound more extreme to European or American ears than they would in the
streets of Tel Aviv or Migdal Ha’emek.
Cohen-Idov said Israeli debaters
also have to learn that most non-Israeli of traits: subtlety.
not that difficult; we’re not light-years behind and we’re quite well liked by
the other teams.”
Cohen-Idov described the world of debating as one that
appears to have been left untouched by anti-Israeli animosity, or calls to
boycott or protest Israeli competitors.
He related experiences from past
tournaments of making friends and hanging out with teams from Pakistan, Malaysia
and Indonesia, and seeing Turkish fans in Istanbul waving an Israeli flag and
cheering them on.
“After the debates, we can have beers with one another
and can be wonderful ambassadors of Israel. I don’t know any other competitive
fields like that,” Cohen-Idov said.
When asked if he’d ever seen any
calls for boycotts or felt any hostility, he said, “Not by a long shot.”