An-Najah Makes History as First Palestinian University to Compete in the Cambridge IV Debate Tournament
The Office of International Development and External Affair (IDEA)’s University Debate Society (NNUDS) made history on November 15th by being the first Palestinian university to ever participate in the prestigious Cambridge IV Debate Tournament in the United Kingdom.
The tournament was attended by some of the most competitive debate societies in the world including from such renowned Universities as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Oxford, LSE, and Stanford. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Global United Insurance company in Palestine, NNUDS’ most accomplished and highest performing debaters were represented at the tournament, including Ms. Iman Saraj and Mr. Suhayb Sakran. They were accompanied by the NNUDS Debate Coach of the IDEA Office, Ms. Alia Gilbrecht.
The tournament was held at the University of Cambridge and included over 80 competitive debate teams from around the world, and took place over two days on November 15th and 16th. The tournament included five general debate rounds that covered issues retaining to politics, morality, economics, and culture. Such subjects that were debates included whether states should be expelled from NATO who fail to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defense; whether feminist movements in the developing world should integrate religious messages and institutions into their advocacy, rather than distancing themselves from them; whether the West should massively discourage and disincentivise economic collaboration and exchange with China among other topics. Following the first five in-rounds, elimination rounds for top performing teams took place. The Grand Final’s motion of the tournament covered the controversial topic of the Palestinian Occupation, whether ‘Palestinians should prioritize striving to consolidate a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as opposed to seeking the right of return to Israel.’ The Final debate round included top performing debaters including a team from Serbia, the UK, and the United States. The debate tackled difficult issues pertaining to the realities of living in an Apartheid state and crucial atrocities being committed against the Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation which are often neglected in mainstream news and media were brought to center stage.
Reflecting on the whole experience and opportunity to represent Palestine and NNUDS for the first time at the tournament, Suhayb noted ‘it was an exciting experience meeting such accomplished and competitive debaters from around the world. I also felt great pride for being a Palestinian debater in such a prestigious tournament.’