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4 May 2002

The Israeli Report to 2002 Worlds Council

At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country.  It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.

The Israeli Report to 2002 Worlds Council

While this may reflect rather poorly on the debating scene in Israel, fortunately it is rather uncomplex and straight forward (read: still very under developed). The academic structure in Israel is fairly simple and there are not many foreseeable problems concerning the debating scene in Israel in the future (except perhaps its slow growth rate...).

University debating in Israel is governed by the Israeli University Debating League which is a council of representatives of the different active debating societies. The league works in cooperation with Siach Va'Sig, The Israel Debating Society.

1. Institutions
The Israeli academic world splits into two major categories - Universities, of which there are six, and private government recognized 'Colleges' which teach a more limited scope of subjects and usually specialize in a particular field (law, computers, engineering, etc.). The colleges are subject to government licensing and are authorized to grant officially recognized degrees that for official purposes are equal to those granted by universities.

At present there are debating societies (at different levels of activity) in four of the six universities (Hebrew University, Haifa University, Tel Aviv University and The Technion) and also in two large colleges (Israeli College of Management and the Israeli Interdisciplinary College). In the past there was a debating society in Bar Ilan University as well, but it is now dormant. All these debating societies participate in the national competitions as well as the World Championships and the European Championships.

There is also a wide variety of religious institutions of higher education (Yeshivas). Until recently, there were no Yeshivas with debating societies. Over the course of the last academic year, a debating program has begun operating in one Yeshiva in Jerusalem and representatives of that program participated in the Open Jerusalem Championships (this competition is also open to High School teams). That said, the future of this program is uncertain. Yeshivas are not recognized by the Higher Education Council of the Ministry of Education and are not considered academic institutions, as studies are not conducted towards an academic degree.

2. Advanced Degrees
The Israeli academic model is generally similar to the European structure. Professional degrees (law, engineering, etc.) are undergraduate degrees. Law, engineering and medicine, for example, are all undergraduate degrees.

Advanced degrees, at the present, are only available through universities, not through colleges. Students studying towards advanced degrees participate in debating activities and are eligible for participation in the national championships. While most debaters are undergraduate students, there are Masters and Doctoral candidates that participate in debating activities.

Professional training (internships, etc.) in Israel are conducted using an apprenticeship model, not through professional training institutions. Specifically, law students undergoing their professional training, after graduation from law school, are not considered students (unless they are pursuing a different degree simultaneously).

3. Multiple Debating Societies
There are no academic institutions in Israel where more than one debating society exists. In light of the ongoing struggle of the existing debating societies for funding and support from the institutions' administrations, the development of more than one debating society in a single university is very highly unlikely.

Should a parallel debating society begin to operate, the issue will most likely be dealt with by the Israeli University Debating League which will verify the situation and make a decision regarding the recognition of the problematic debating society.

4. Development
The Israeli University Debating League is is attempting to encourage other academic institutions to establish debating societies. Debating is increasingly becoming a more recognized part of Israeli student and campus life and we are hoping this trend will continue in the upcoming years.

Yehoshua Gurtler
Israeli Delegate, World University Debating Council

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