'Jeopardy!' Sparks Social Media Uproar With Bethlehem Question

Alex Trebek poses on the set of the "Jeopardy!" -Getty-H 2019
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Alex Trebek

Contestants were asked where the Church of the Nativity was located and gave differing answers.

Jeopardy! on Monday corrected a clue that waded into controversial territory when it was broadcast the prior week.

On Friday contestants were prompted with the clue, "Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity" under the "Where's the Church?" category, contestant Katie Needle answered, "What is Palestine?" Host Alex Trebek told Needle her answer was incorrect. When contestant Jack McGuire answered, "What is Israel?" he was deemed correct.

Palestinian rights advocates erupted over the question, given that the Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem on the West Bank, in Palestinian territories. The territories are currently occupied by Israel.

In a Monday blog post, Jeopardy! stated that during the taping of Friday's episode, "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." Needle's and McGuire's scores were restored to the way they were before the clue and the show provided a "replacement clue" (which can be seen on this video) that continued the game. McGuire won the replacement clue.

Nevertheless, "through human error in post-production" the uncorrected clue was broadcast. "We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again," the post states.

After the original segment aired on Monday, social media users immediately began correcting the show. "Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed)," Arab American Institute deputy director Omar Baddar tweeted. "@Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel's universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands."

AJ+ senior producer and host Sana Seed tweeted, "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."

"The Church of the Nativity is in Bethlehem, which is Palestine, NOT Israel," another Twitter user tweeted, with a swear word. "The woman answered Palestine and you ruled her wrong."

Even with the replacement clue, Needles, a retail supervisor from Brooklyn, ultimately won the game, for a total winnings of $53,602 so far.

Jan. 13, 2:40 p.m. Updated with Jeopardy! statement.