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American TV gameshow stymied by Middle East politics

The American TV gameshow Jeopardy got itself in hot water with a simple question under the category “Where’s That Church?”

One contestant chose the category and got the clue: “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.” She answered: Palestine

The host said she got the answer wrong and another contestant buzzed in with his answer, Israel. He was awarded $200. But during a break, it appeared the producers reneged on this and the original contestant was credited with having given the correct answer.

The politically charged answer generated immediate and strong reactions on social media — both from Palestinians who demanded a correction and from Israeli who rejoiced at the affirmation that the West Bank as part of Israel.

The controversy only got worse when the producers of the show issued an apology.

“We became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic,” the show announced. “In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out. We restored Katie’s and Jack’s scores to what they were prior to the clue. The outcome of the game was not affected.”

The Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem in the West Bank, which is territory controlled by the Palestinians. To get there, you have to cross a checkpoint which is located in south Jerusalem. Israel controls the area around Bethlehem. This is what Palestinians call the “occupation.” Many Israelis believe the West Bank should be under Israeli control.

Of course, let’s remember that the angels did not appear in Palestine to shepherds in the town of “Daud” (Arabic for David) the former king of Saudi Arabia! No! Bethlehem was a Jewish town in ancient Israel. It was overtaken by Christian Arabs and now most of them have been forced out and it is now a Muslim dominated city.

A replacement clue about another less controversial church, the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, was filmed and should have aired instead of the Church of the Nativity clue, the show said.

“Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again,” the statement said.
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