Despite attempts to politicize the tournament and a refusal to engage with students from Israel, two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia.

By: The Tower

Two Israeli teams topped the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia, in which a total of 187 teams from 30 countries within and surrounding Europe were competing against each other, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.

The tournament, hosted in Novi Sad, took place from July 31 through Saturday. The Israeli Debating League sent a total of 20 teams and 25 adjudicators representing nine universities and academic institutions from all over Israel. Five Israeli teams reached the final stages of the international tournament.

Noam Dahan and Tom Manor of Tel Aviv University, who were defending champions of last year’s title in the “English as a Second Language” category, won the competition, after a grueling nine-round tournament against the best debaters from across the Continent, including from Oxford University and the University of Cambridge.

This year, their pair competed alongside native English speakers. Amichay Even-Chen and Ido Kotler, also from Tel Aviv University, won in the “English as a Second Language” category.

In an academic world where Israeli institutions are facing boycotts, the world of debating has great respect for the Israeli teams and adjudicators. It is the fourth year in a row a Tel Aviv University team has won this title.

However, some countries tried to politicize the tournament and refused to engage with students from Israel. The Qatar representatives repeatedly boycotted debates in which they were competing against Israel, stating on multiple occasions that they refuse to debate alongside an “apartheid state.”

In an op-ed published in The Algemeiner on July 26, CEO and President of the Israel Project Joshua S. Block, said that “no other country in the global sporting industry is subjected to such horrific acts of discrimination.”

Block referenced the case of Liel Levitan, a seven-year-old girl from Haifa who recently won the European Chess Championship and was barred from playing in the World Chess Championship because of her nationality. On Monday, Ynet reported that Tunisia lifted the ban amid pressure from international organizations.