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On August 31st and September 1st, 2018, An-Najah National University Debate Society (NNUDS) in collaboration with the Office of International Relations and External Affairs organized the Second Annual International Palestine Open Debate Tournament. This tournament included the participation of more than 50 debaters from An-Najah National University, Birzeit University, Al Quds Open University, Al Quds Bard and Arab American University competing in the British Parliamentary format.

This structure of debate involves four teams competing against one another with two teams per side and two members per team.  Each team aims to create the most persuasive case after only 15 minutes of preparation. This year, the tournament included four rounds before eliminations to semi finals and then the finals.

To prepare for the tournament, a full day of pre-tournament trainings took place on Thursday, August 30th in the New Campus Library.  Five international debate trainers and judges who came to participate in the tournament lead nine training sessions on British Parliamentary debate including motion analysis, argumentation and rebuttals, roles of different speakers, and how to judge.  

The team that took first place was Rahaf Salahat and Tala Salem of Al Quds Bard College. The best speaker was Sanaa Aslan of An-Najah National University. The other three finalist teams included Tayma Abdelhadi and Shaker Nairat of Birzeit University, Suhayb Sakran and Radi Barq of An Najah National University and Nawal Al-Jayousi and Sanaa Aslan of An-Najah National University An-Najah debaters took home 7 of the top 10 speaker awards and two of the An-Najah teams made it to the final round.

The core adjudication team included John Sadek and Mariel Golden of the University of Vermont and Iyad Ghazal of An-Najah National University. The international judges included Samuel Natale, Camara Stokes, Duncan Crowe, Jonah Bol, Nicholas Aranda and Winter Mehari.  The Palestinian judges were Lara Kasbari, Rafiq Hamawi, Shatha Arafat, Hanan Tbaileh, Islam Najjar and Tamara Fayez Abdel Latif. The tournament was organized by Alia Gilbrecht of the International Office at An Najah National University and Mariel Golden. 

Sana Aslan, winner of the Best Speaker title, reflecting on her experience said ‘the awareness that debate has given me is the top of the reasons why I wanted to continue debating and competing. Knowing news all over the world and the ability to analyze information and predict its future consequences doesn't only help me become a better debater, but it also helps me in real life. I have become a better thinker and that is what made me win such a title. I am not only delighted, but also proud, very proud with my progress.’


NNUDS was establish in 2017 at An-Najah National University and is one of the only English language competitive debate programmes in Palestine.  The society organizes regular English debate trainings throughout the academic semester and most recently hosted an intensive debate camp with Mariel Golden in June of 2018. To learn more about NNUDS programs or get involved, email [email protected]

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