Jeopardy! Clue Sparks Bethlehem Uproar

Contestant's answer that Church of the Nativity is in Palestine deemed wrong
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2020 1:32 PM CST
Jeopardy! Wades Into Bethlehem Debate
In this April 30, 2017, file photo, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek speaks at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Pasadena, Calif.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

"Built in the 300s AD, the Church of the Nativity..." With those 10 little words Friday, Jeopardy! waded into Mideast controversy. Katie Needle buzzed in to answer, "What is Palestine?" under the "Where's the Church?" category, but was told by Alex Trebek she was incorrect. Fellow contestant Jack McGuire then said, "What is Israel?" and was told by Trebek he'd gotten it right. An uproar ensued, per the Hollywood Reporter, with Palestinian rights advocates pointing out on social media that the church is in Bethlehem, which is on the West Bank, which—well, we'll let the deputy director of the Arab American Institute take it from here. "Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed)," tweeted Omar Baddar. "@Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel's universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands."

Needle ultimately won the game and later tweeted that "Palestine should be free." No one involved with the show has yet commented, but another watcher observed this: "Loved how Katie turned to the judges like 'are you f---ing kidding me?' If you kept watching, after the commercial break she had her points back but they didn't explain why to the viewer, which... I have never seen before on Jeopardy." The Washington Post looked at some other online comments from people in the viewing audience and spoke to some, and it reports that producers ultimately decided to scrap the question entirely, setting everyone's scores back to what they had been before it was asked and taping a new one with a new clue for the same amount of money ($200). Why the Bethlehem clue aired instead of the new clue is not clear. Meanwhile, the show's separate "Greatest of All Time" tournament returns to airwaves Tuesday. (More Jeopardy stories.)

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