A recent contestant on “Jeopardy!” was told she gave the wrong answer when she claimed the birthplace of Jesus Christ was in Palestine, not Israel.
The game show player, Katie Needle, chose the question in the broadcast that aired Friday from the category “Where’s that Church?” The prompt was, “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.” In response, Needle said, “What is Palestine?”
Show host Alex Trebek immediately denied Needle’s answer. A fellow competitor, Jack McGuire, then stepped in, offering the reply, “What is Israel?” which Trebek affirmed as the correct answer. “That’s it,” the host said.
The seemingly uncontroversial exchange resulted in a firestorm of social media posts with Twitter users sounding off on who rightly owns Bethlehem — Israel or the Palestinian Authority.
James Zogby, a Democratic pollster and co-founder of the Arab American Institute, described the exchange on “Jeopardy!” as “an insult to history, reality, [and] the thousands of oppressed Palestinians of Bethlehem.”
In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Israel seized control of the West Bank, allowing Jewish settlers to move into the land. However, Palestinians and their allies still consider the area — to include Bethlehem — to be Palestinian property illegally occupied by Israelis.
The Church of the Nativity, considered to be the birthplace of Jesus, is in Bethlehem. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization considers the spot, which is near the concrete barrier that encircles the West Bank, to be in Palestine.
It should be noted, though, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a turn away from the approach espoused by the Obama administration, announced in November it would be the policy of the U.S. government that Jewish “settlements” in Samaria and Judea (the geographical location of the biblical Bethlehem) are not in violation of international law.
“The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach toward Israeli settlements,” Pompeo said at the time. “U.S. public statements on settlement activities in the West Bank have been inconsistent over decades.”
“In 1978, the Carter administration categorically concluded that Israel’s establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law,” he continued. “However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn’t believe that the settlements were inherently illegal.”
After analyzing the issue, the secretary noted, the Trump White House restored the position advanced by the Reagan administration in the 1980s.