New York, NY, April 14, 2016 – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was deeply disturbed to learn that participants at the U.S. Universities Debating Championship in Atlanta last weekend were challenged to justify Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israeli civilian “targets.”
According to reports, some participants and students in the championship walked out in protest after the debate proposition, “This House Believes that Palestinian Violence Against Israeli Civilians Is Justified,” was revealed. The question’s wording forced half of all participants, who are assigned their viewpoints, to argue in favor of committing terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
“It is outrageous and deeply offensive that students participating in the debating championship, some of whom were Jewish, were essentially forced to choose between losing points in the national championship or advocating for violence against Israeli civilians,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides plenty of issues that may be worthy of debate, asking students to argue in defense of terrorism against civilians is insensitive and abhorrent. It says enough that some students started crying during their presentations because they were so deeply unsettled for having to advocate in favor of terrorism and violence.
Greenblatt added, “It is hard to imagine that the organizers would ever have asked students to defend Al Qaeda’s attacks against the U.S. on 9/11, and this shouldn’t be any different – there is no legitimate justification for terrorism. While ADL is a fierce advocate for freedom of speech and the role of debate in the public square, whoever devised the question exercised extremely poor judgment.”
ADL called on organizers of the United States Universities Debate Association, which organized the event, to publicly apologize for this incident and use it as a teachable moment so that future debates do not include questions that require them to defend immoral positions that are anathema to reasonable and rational debate.