An Najah University Sets Another High Bar for the Palestinian Debate Circuit
On December 19th, 2020 An Najah University Debate Society saw three team members compete in the Bristol University Online Open Debate Championship. The competition included 47 teams (94 speakers) of university students and graduates from prestigious universities including Oxford, Bristol, Univ of California, Imperial, Liverpool, and Newcastle universities. International speakers also attended from Europe, Asia, and North America in addition to nearly 40 top achieving international adjudicators.
Recent graduate of the Mechatronics Engineering department, Shehab Ahmad Ali Khader, current Physics Department undergraduate Zaina Jamal Hurani, and graduate and new team member Bayan Robin Natsheh represented the University at the competition.
The competition was structured in a 'Pro Am' British Parliamentary format whereby international speakers who have made finals in several international competitions within the 'open' (non-novice categories) can partner with any speakers internationally who have not made to open category finals in international competitions.
This structure of British parliamentary 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.
There were four open rounds for all teams to compete in followed by three levels of finals for the top 4 teams (gold final), 5-8th ranking teams (silver finals), and 9th - 12th ranking top teams (bronze finals). The rounds focused on diverse topics within a global context related to: democracy and civic engagement, artificial intelligence, philosophy and morality, employment and labor rights.
Khader and Natsheh teamed up and did very well representing our team, receiving impressive adjudication feedback for their performances
Zaina Hurani and her partner, Muhammad Muzzamil Godil, competed in the 'pro-am' category and made it to the Silver Finals. Godil is a 3rd year undergraduate international student at the U.S. based John Hopkins University working towards his Bachelors (Bs) in Computer Science and Mathematics. Godil has most recently ranked as 2nd top ESL speaker at the U.S. Universities Debating Championship (USUDC) while Hurani has regularly ranked as a top novice speaker and made it to several novice finals including the U.S. based Duke University Online Open, which she participated in and many other competitions with her debating partner Tayseer Sultan Alawneh, a medical student and an amazing debater in An-Najah University.
Together, Hurani and Godil succeeded in making it to the Silver Finals with three other teams all ranking 5th-8th top teams of the competition.
Among nearly 100 speakers, Zaina Hurani ranked 12th top overall speaker and 2nd place novice speaker.
This marks the first time any debater representing a Palestinian institution has made it to an international open category (non-novice) final, marking a major achievement for the University.