Four members of Tel Aviv University’s Debate Team made history in Serbia by capturing the trophies for both the open English and English-as-a-second-language (ESL) categories at the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship (EUDC) held at Novi Sad Business School in Serbia.

Noam Dahan and Tom Manor, reigning champions of last year’s ESL category, this year competed in the open English category and beat out all other competitors, including debaters from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford in England.

In the ESL category, the duo of Amichay Even-Chen and Ido Kotler took first prize, making the fourth consecutive year Israeli debaters have won this title.

Debaters from Tel Aviv University competing in the 2018 European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia. Photo via Facebook

The 20th annual tournament from July 31 to August 4 involved more than 700 participants from 30 countries, competing in British Parliamentary Style. The format pits four teams against each other in two opposing sides, with two teams per side and two members per team.

Each strives to provide the most persuasive and comprehensive case to an assigned topic after only 15 minutes of preparation. A different topic is debated in each round. The top teams continue on to elimination rounds.

The Israeli Debating League sent 20 teams from nine universities and colleges from all over Israel. Five of the teams reached the elimination round. The Israelis kept their cool throughout the nine-round tournament even as contestants from Qatar refused to debate with them. EUDC officials later reported that they “consider such behavior unacceptable at any debate competition. In light of this, we took a decision to make the [Qatar University] team ineligible to break [advancing to the elimination rounds]” and proposed amendments to the organization’s constitution to address this type of issue more clearly.