Jeopardy! apologizes for ruling that Israel – not Palestine – is the birthplace of Jesus

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Jeopardy! has issued an apology after ruling that Jesus Christ’s birth place of Bethlehem is in Israel and not Palestine.     

The long-running game show put the mistake down to ‘human error in post-production’ after the episode sparked backlash online, particularly from Palestinian advocacy organisations.  

A statement from the producers explained the contestants had still received the correct scoring after the woman who answered ‘Palestine’ correctly was retroactively awarded points. 

The Church of Nativity, which Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, is located in Bethlehem which resides in the occupied West Bank controlled by Palestinian authority. 

The producers of Jeopardy! have issued an apology after ruling that the birthplace of Jesus is in Israel and not Palestine, sparking outrage online

The producers of Jeopardy! have issued an apology after ruling that the birthplace of Jesus is in Israel and not Palestine, sparking outrage online 

The question that sparked the controversy was under the category 'Where's that church?' asked 'Built in the 300s AD, the Church of Nativity'

The question that sparked the controversy was under the category ‘Where’s that church?’ asked ‘Built in the 300s AD, the Church of Nativity’

The Church of Nativity, which Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, is located in Bethlehem which resides in the occupied West Bank controlled by Palestinian authority

The Church of Nativity, which Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus, is located in Bethlehem which resides in the occupied West Bank controlled by Palestinian authority

The chat show producers said: ‘In the process of taping this clue, ‘BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY’ we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic.

‘In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out. We restored Katie’s and Jack’s scores to what they were prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was not affected.’ 

‘Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. 

‘We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again.’  

The statement is in compliance with some eagle-eyed Twitter users, who noted that the show quietly awarded contestant Needle $200 during a commercial break, meaning she earned points for her Palestine answer, despite being initially deemed incorrect. 

In Friday’s episode of Jeopardy!, a $200 question under the category ‘Where’s that church?’ asked ‘Built in the 300s AD, the Church of Nativity’. 

Contestant Katie Needle buzzed in and answered, ‘What is Palestine?’

Host Alex Trebek responded ‘no’. Contestant Jack McGuire then buzzed in and answered, ‘What is Israel?’ and won the point. 

However, the question erupted in controversy online, throwing the game show into the throes of the geopolitical debate between Israel and Palestine.  

Contestant Katie Needle (left) buzzed in and answered, 'What is Palestine?' but host Alex Trebek said she was wrong

Contestant Katie Needle (left) buzzed in and answered, ‘What is Palestine?’ but host Alex Trebek said she was wrong

Contestant Jack McGuire then buzzed in and answered, 'What is Israel?' and won the point

Contestant Jack McGuire then buzzed in and answered, ‘What is Israel?’ and won the point

Some viewers noticed that Katie won an additional $200 during a commercial break, retroactively given the point for her Palestine answer

Some viewers noticed that Katie won an additional $200 during a commercial break, retroactively given the point for her Palestine answer

Palestine officially controls the West Bank as legitimized by the 1993 Oslo Accords. However, portions of the land is subject to Israeli incursions. 

The Church of Nativity is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and pilgrimage site for Christians. 

Social media users vented their fury with Trebek’s curt ‘no’ and the show’s apparent interpretation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, demanding Jeopardy! release an apology.  

‘Hey @Jeopardy, The Church of Nativity is in #Palestine – How was her answer wrong? You should correct this or make a statement. Embarrassing and wrong on many levels,’ one Twitter wrote. 

‘#AlexTrebek shame on you, don’t mix games with politics! It was called #Palestine not #Israel,’ another Twitter user echoed. 

‘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,’ one outraged Twitter user added. 

‘Apparently @Jeopardy had a question today on The Church of the Nativity and when the contestant answered ‘Palestine,’ it was deemed incorrect and the next contestant said ‘Israel’ and it was counted as correct. @Jeopardy please explain,’ another Twitter user said. 

In the end Needle won the game and bagged a two-day total winnings of $53,602. 

Church of the Nativity pictured above in Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity pictured above in Bethlehem



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