Jeopardy! Producers Walk Back 'Problematic' Israel Question After Enraging Palestinians

January 14th, 2020 10:45 PM

TV game show “Jeopardy!” producers have responded to online uproar from Palestinian sympathizers over a controversial in-game question regarding the state of Israel.

On Friday, Jan. 10, long-running games series “Jeopardy!” featured a question about the location of the famous church which is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Of course, that church is in Bethlehem, Israel, the same reality that host Alex Trebek affirmed on air. However, pro-Palestinian viewers took issue with that and the show's producers have since come out claiming the question was a mistake in the first place.

Producers released an apology for the controversy, claiming that the question was supposed to be scrapped from the final live version of the NBC program, but made it in there to due to human error.

During the segment, the inadvertent “clue” to the $200 question/category, “Where is that church?” read, “BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY.” Variety reported that “contestant Katie Needle responded with, ‘What is Palestine?’” but her answer was ruled incorrect, while rival contestant Jack McGuire’s answer “What is Israel?” was ruled correct.

Of course, woke anti-Israel Twitter users went nuts, blasting the game show for its apparent pro-Israel stance. Deputy director of the Arab American Institute Omar Baddar tweeted, “Unacceptable!! Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed.)”

Baddar added, “@Jeopardy owes an apology for endorsing Israel's universally-condemned illegal takeover of Palestinian lands.” Arab American Institute founder James Zogby chimed in as well, tweeting that Jeopardy!’s judgment was “an outrage & an insult to history, reality, the thousands of oppressed Palestinians of Bethlehem.”

Adeb Ayoub, Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, also tweeted, “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.”

Sure, whatever they say. But, of course, an official Palestinian state has never been recognized by Israel nor the United States, though many Palestinians live in the region. They have no official claim to it. Variety also detailed that Bethlehem, the town in which the Church is, is in the West Bank, saying, “The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967 and is home to about 2.6 million Palestinians.”

On Monday Jan. 13, however, “Jeopardy!” producers released a statement clarifying that the Israel/Palestine question was replaced with another that was supposed to air, with the intention of getting away from the controversial subject matter. The fact that the original question aired was due to an error.

“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,” the producers shared, adding, “In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out.” Though the Israel question broadcast “through human error in post-production.”

The replacement clue was supposed to be “The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” to which the response was “What is Mexico?” Strange, though, that an American network game show would made a mistake in airing the legitimate question and answer. Perhaps it was an "error," but why? Does the media really value the overblown assertions of Palestinian activists over the fact that Israel lays claim to the area?