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Talk Of The Town!

Not lost for words! The winning Ankori debating team hold their trophy aloft

The Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition, in partnership with the Anglo Israel Association,returned to Israel to expand the use of our unique format and approach to schools' debating at the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, on April 13, 2016. Debating Matters Israel is Israel's only content-focused English language debating tournament for 16-18 year olds from all communities and backgrounds. After a day of hard-fought debate, Ankori Network were crowned the winners.

Runners up were Branco Weiss Rabin High School, Mazkeret Batya. Yaniv Shem Tov from Ankori Network particularly impressed the adjudicators and was named 'Best Individual. Highly Commended Individual was Tom Ashkenazi Naim, Ankori Network, and Commended Individual was Heli Markman, Makif Ramot, BatYam.

Trixie Mass, English coordinator and debate coach at Ankori Network said:

"Debating Matters has changed our school. After getting to the final last year, the buzz around English and debating in our school has been amazing. We had 40 students who wanted to take part this year. I cannot believe we won."

Following on from the success of Debating Matters Israel's pilot year in 2015, the competition has doubled in size for 2016, incorporating more Jewish and Arab participants.

In Israel, Debating Matters provides an opportunity for students to discuss key issues in civics, science and society in their own words, and to set the agenda with their own ideas and visions for how society should be organized. To impress, debaters haveto argue what it means to be a citizen of Israel and of the world, as Ankori Network did.

A mixture of Jewish and Arab students came together at the competition to debate a range of contemporary issues important to Israeli society and voiced in the media. Using the challenging Debating Matters format, the students debated topics, including if there is still a need for public libraries, whether physician-assisted suicide should be legalized, and if we can expect our online activities to remain private. A discerning and inquisitive audience of guests, schools and professionals contributed from the audience, giving the feel of a lively public meeting. 

Something to say ... a lofty view of the debating contest in progress

Twelve school teams from across Israel competed in the expanded competition: Anglican International School Jerusalem, Ankori, IbnAlHaitham, Baqa Al-Gharbiyya, Yachad Modiin, Nesher High School, Reali Haifa, Shai Agnon High School Netanya, Makif Ramot, Rabin High School, Mazkeret Batya and Atid Lod High School for Sciences.

Judged by specialists from a wide range of professional backgrounds, experiences and areas of expertise, students had the opportunity to debate key real-world issues in English. Judges included: Charlotte Hallé, Editor, Haaretz English Editor; Steve Linde, Editor-in-chief, The Jerusalem Post; and representatives of the British Embassy, British Council, Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israel Ministry of Education. With a strong culture of informal debate, Israel's tradition of lively public discussion offers a great foundation for Debating Matters engaging, conversational format.

Supported by HM Ambassador David Quarrey, the British Embassy hosted a reception at the British Embassy Residence in Ramat Gan on April 12 2016, for partners, supporters and participants.

As the success of Debating Matters in the UK, Germany and India proves, debating helps students improve their articulacy in English, increase awareness and understanding of social policy issues, build confidence and maturity, and make strong and respectful arguments.

Joel Cohen, project coordinator, Debating Matters Israel said:

"What really surprised many of the judges was that in Debating Matters, Israeli students were forced to listen as well as talk. To win their debates they had to do their research, take on board the ideas of others, and make a claim for how the world should be. They did this maturely, bravely and most importantly, intelligently."

Debating Matters Israel hopes to support high standards of achievement in English and civics as well as career aspirations, intellectual thought, expanded horizons and a higher standard of public debate. Debating Matters will introduce Israel's most promising students to locations, institutions and opinions they may never have had the opportunity to encounter before.

Timandra Harkness, Debating Matters judge, broadcaster and author said:

"It's wonderful to see how incredibly smart the Israeli students are. Debating Matters never fails wherever I have seen it in the world, be that in the UK, India or Germany. Today, the students seemed to thrive under the pressure of arguing in English. Well done to Ankori."

For further information about the competition, go to 



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