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January 10, 2020 9:28 am
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In a First, Two Israeli Women Win Gold at World Debate Championship in Thailand

avatar by Lauren Izso

Hadar Goldberg and Maya Saveliev (in center, holding trophies) pose for a photo with fellow competitors at the 40th World Universities Debate Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Israeli Debating League Facebook.

In a historic first, an Israeli debate team made up of two women recently took home a gold medal from the 40th World Universities Debating Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

The competitors were the third group from Israel to ever have won first place, but made history as the first female Israeli duo to win.

Hadar Goldberg and Maya Saveliev, representing Israel’s Open University Debate Team, defeated 750 contestants from around the world in the English Second Language (ESL) category.

The final debate asked participants whether US criminal cases involving African Americans should be discussed by special committees from the African American community rather than traditional courts. The Israeli team argued against the proposal in its winning arguments.

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Goldberg and Saveliev won the competition after enduring nine rounds of quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, beating teams from Korea, Germany, Malaysia, Spain, Serbia, Bangladesh, South Africa and Ghana, as well as fellow competitors from Israel.

Throughout the competition, a variety of issues were discussed including democracy, morality, gender, geopolitics and law.

Israel is not new to the international debate scene. Three Israeli teams reached the finals in the European Debate Championship 2019, and Israelis won in both the EPL and ESL categories in 2018.

A Tel Aviv University team also won the European Round Robin debate competition last year, an exclusive university-level debate competition in Poland, and an Israeli high school team won the European High School Debate Championship in 2018.

In 2016, Israel was the first non-native English speaking country to win the world championship in Thessaloniki, Greece.

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