American game show Jeopardy! has caused controversy for determining a contestant’s answer identifying Palestine as the home of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, as incorrect.
The incident took place during round one of the episode aired on Friday, with the clue described as “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity”. Brooklyn-based Katie Needle quickly responded first stating the Church of the Nativity was located in Palestine.
However, host Alex Trebek deemed the answer wrong.
Another contestant, Jack McGuire, buzzed in after Katie and answered “Israel” which Trebek announced was corrected, awarding him $200.
Viewers, however, turned to social media to slam the factual error and called for an apology by the show’s producers and host.
Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the non-profit Arab American Institute, tweeted that the show’s decision to recognise the church as within Israel and not Palestine was “unacceptable!”
Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed). @Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel's universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.pic.twitter.com/Ym99YziM4k
— Omar Baddar عمر بدّار (@OmarBaddar) January 11, 2020
Hey @Jeopardy – the Church of Nativity is in Bethlehem, which is located in the West Bank which – under international law – is occupied by Israel.
The occupied land is also known, under international law, as the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) January 11, 2020
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) January 11, 2020
Omar Ghraieb, a Palestinian writer who lives in Gaza, told Al Jazeera: “What happened is inexcusable. Jeopardy! should apologise and give a clear explanation. This shouldn’t just pass calmly and be forgotten.”
The Church of the Nativity, which Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, is located in Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. It is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
The United Nations also lists the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as part of Palestine, and says Israeli settlements in Bethlehem and other parts of the occupied West Bank are illegal and a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Eagle-eyed viewers noted that, following a commercial break, Katie’s score had been bumped up by $200 without explanation. She went on to win the episode and bring her total two-day winnings to $53,602.