Two Tel Aviv University students, Yoni Cohen-Idov and Uri Mehav, surpassed all expectations by placing first and second, respectively, in the annual European Debating Championships in Newcastle, England early this month.
The two Israelis beat out dozens of native English speakers, and continued to shock spectators, opponents and adjudicators alike by progressing to the Grand Final, where they faced three teams from Oxford.
There are two categories: English as a First Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). Although the Israelis belong to the ESL group, they defeated English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish competition. It was only the second time an ESL team made the Grand Final in the last decade.
Mehav and Cohen-Idov were cheered on at the final by a crowd of defeated non-native English speakers. “That was the greatest experience,” Mehav told The Jerusalem Post. “It was really an amazing sight to see Muslims and Catholics cheering for us, chanting ‘Tel Aviv’ over and over – we were absolutely exhilarated.”
The two plan to test their skills again at the Debating World Cup in Turkey in December.