A duo of debaters from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem won the 2019 World University Debating Championship in the English Second-Language category. The contest, hosted by the University of Cape Town Debating Union, wrapped up on January 4.

Hebrew University students Roy Schulman (a master’s degree candidate from Yehud) and Elaye Karstadt (a PhD student from Jerusalem) advanced to the finals after the full team competed against thousands of students from 20 countries. They then defeated pairs from Russia, Malaysia and Japan to take the ESL title.

In addition, Amichai Even-Chen and Ido Kotler from Tel Aviv University made it to the final rounds of the general Open competition for native English-speakers. Among their opponents were students from Oxford and Harvard.

“For a long time, I wasn’t considered good at debate,” posted Karstadt on Facebook, noting that it took three years to get his first speaking break and a bit longer until he was sent by the HUJ Debate Society as a speaker to a major international competition.

“Getting better is hard to do alone; I owe much of it to the boom of amazing ESL speakers over the last few years, who consistently raised the bar on debating as a whole with a combination of smarts, strategy, and amazing speeches. … And I am very fortunate to have met the many great people of the Israeli (and European) debate circuit who kept challenging me at competitions, and to all the speakers I faced who, afterwards, were very active in showing respect and helping me feel that they enjoyed facing me and wanted to continue doing so.”