A pair of Israeli students representing Tel Aviv University won the European Debate Championships in the English as a Second Language category, an annual competition between collegiate teams which this year took place in Croatia, on Friday evening.
The competition took place throughout this past week, with over 450 students from approximately 60 of the best universities in Europe.
Winners Tamar Ben Meir and Hadar Goldberg from the Tel Aviv University Debate Team took the gold at the competition's finals on Friday.
Debate in the British Parliament style, one of the more common styles of debate used globally, involves four groups of two participants each (an opening speaker and a closing speaker) who are told to take a particular stance on a particular topic with no time to research and mere minutes to prepare.
Two of the groups represent the government - the side of the debate in favor of the motion - and two groups are in the opposition. Each speaker, switching each time between government and opposition, has seven minutes to make their claim and attempt to shut down their opponent's remarks.
The groups are then ranked by a panel of judges between first and fourth place and move forward in the competition accordingly.
Ben Meir and Goldberg competed against two European teams and an additional Israeli team from Haifa University in the finals.
The motion posed the following discussion: "You are an atheist living in a country with a significant, but not extreme, degree of religiosity. There exists a single pill that, if taken, will permanently make you genuinely and earnestly believe in the majority religion. The motion is: This house will take the pill."
The winning team opened the debate as Opening Government - the first speakers - while the Haifa team were the first opposition group to speak, putting them head-to-head with one another.
The four teams fought one another in a battle of the wits, and ultimately, the Tel Aviv team came out on top.
In addition, individual speakers are ranked throughout debate competitions, and Ben Meir came out winning as all-around best speaker of the competition, with Goldberg second in rank.
These are not the first wins for either competitor; Goldberg won the World Universities Debate Championship in 2020, representing the Open University at the time. Ben Meir made it to the open finals - as in, the finals for all speakers, including native English speakers - of the European Debate Championships in 2021 and ranked once more then as top ESL speaker.
"I'm incredibly happy and incredibly overwhelmed," said Ben Meir. "Even in my dreams of what I wanted to achieve, top speaking at this competition and winning a final altogether was not even something that was even part of my possible goals."
"Even in my dreams of what I wanted to achieve, top speaking at this competition and winning a final altogether was not even something that was even part of my possible goals."Tamar Ben Meir
"I'm incredibly proud to be an ESL woman representing all women in general," she concluded.