Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 January 2020

US game show 'Jeopardy' causes outrage by stating the Church of the Nativity is in Israel, not Palestine

A contestant was told she was wrong after stating the traditional birthplace of Jesus was in Palestine

One of America's most popular game shows has stirred up controversy by claiming Bethlehem is in Israel, not Palestine.

In an episode of Jeopardy which aired on Friday, January 10, contestants were asked to identify the location of the Church of the Nativity. The traditional birthplace of Jesus is found in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank.

Contestant Katie Needle answered first, stating that the holy site was located in Palestine. However, host Alex Trebek replied that the answer was incorrect, and docked Needle $200 (Dh734) for the "mistake". Perhaps understandably, Needle looked shocked.

Competitor Jack McGuire was hot on Needle's heels, and answer quickly that the church was in Israel – to which the host immediately responded with a resounding “that’s it”.

The Church of the Nativity is one of Bethlehem's, and indeed Palestine's, biggest tourism draws. It is currently undergoing a historic renovation in a bid to boost visitor numbers in the city.

The renovation started in 2013, a year after Unesco declared the church a world heritage site, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Unsurprisingly, social media has had a few things to say about Jeopardy's faux pas.

Jeopardy fan Bassem Nasir swore off the show for good. "Completely unacceptable that you deny that the Church of the Nativity is in Bethlehem, Palestine and insist that it is in Israel. Thank you Katie for telling the truth ... your look towards Alex was priceless," he said on Twitter.

Political analyst Omar Baddar called for the show to issue an apology, saying: "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."

Needle herself seems to have since waded into the social media fray. Responding to an outraged Jeopardy viewer, she said: "Thanks! Palestine should be free."

Updated: January 12, 2020 11:38 AM

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