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Announcing the Great Debate

By Tzvi Fishman
2/4/2008, 12:00 AM

To settle, for once and for all time, the question, “Should a Jew live in Israel today?” an upcoming debate will be held in Jerusalem between the crack team of Arutz 7 Bloggers versus an all-star team of Diaspora Couch Potatoes.

Leading Couch Potatoes to Appear in Jerusalem 

The debate will be held in the Binyune Hauma National Convention Hall on March 10, a month away. Invitations are going out to the Diaspora’s foremost cyberspace Jews, including Mike from Vienna, VA; Shmuelik from Monsey, NY;  Roger from Manchester, England; Daniel from Kyoto, Japan; SK from the USA; Shimshon from NYC; Steve Fox from St. Paul; and Rob from the USA.

Israel has been chosen as the debate site since Jewish halachah forbids the Arutz 7 team from leaving the Land of Israel, as the Rambam states: “It is forbidden to leave the Land of Israel at all times to go outside of the Land, except to study Torah, or to marry, or to save a Jew from the gentiles, so long as one’s intention is to return to Eretz Yisrael. It is also permissible to leave temporarily on business, but to settle down in the Diaspora is forbidden, unless there is a severe famine in the Land” (Mishne Torah, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 5:9).

The Birthright Organization will be asked to sponsor the ticket costs for participants coming from the Diaspora to forestall their financial concerns. Nefesh B’Nefesh will be asked to arrange for their housing during their stay. Participating debaters from the Diaspora must confirm their attendance no later than February 12. Entries not filed by that date will be considered void. Any team that cannot muster three debaters will forfeit the confrontation, and it will be considered an undisputed victory for the opposing debaters.

Names that have been mentioned for the impartial panel of judges include the Former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Meir Lau; Rabbi Martin Heir of the Simon Weisenthal Memorial Holocaust Center in Los Angeles; Natan Sharansky; Henry Kissinger; Yosi Sarid; Edgar Bronfman; and Baruch Marzel.

The debate will be open to the public and will be broadcast worldwide by INN Israel National News.

The moderator of the historic debate is scheduled to be the world famous CNN talk-show host, Larry King.