Israeli debaters Meir Yarom and Michael Shapiro, members of the Haifa University Debating Society, are the World Debating Champions for 2011. The two took first prize in their category at the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), held in Botswana.
More than 300 teams from about 50 countries took part in the championship.
There are three categories at the WUDC – Mother-tongue English, English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language. Yarom and Shapiro competed in the ESL category, although they defeated native English-speaking teams as well on their way to the top.
In the final round, the Haifa U team beat teams from the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Malaysia. Shapiro and Yarom debated the motion, “This house believes that the courts should break up consistently dominant political parties.” In earlier rounds, they debated Internet privacy, prohibiting teacher union strikes, the right to possess nuclear weapons, and more.
Yarom, a law student, and Shapiro, who is studying philosophy and general history, continued a string of impressive Haifa U achievements with their win. Last year's Haifa U team made the finals; other teams have done well at the European Debating Championship and in Israel, where Haifa U teams have won the national championship five times in the past 10 years.