News and Commentary

‘Jeopardy!’ Rules Bethlehem Is In Israel, Not ‘Palestine’
Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post via Getty Images

As seen in a clip that went viral over the weekend, the judges of popular game show “Jeopardy!” deemed that the Christian holy city of Bethlehem, which is located in the southern suburban outskirts of Jerusalem, is located in Israel — and not in so-called “Palestine.”

As every Christian and many religiously or historically aware non-Christians know, the holy Church of Nativity — recognized in the Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus — is in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is roughly six miles south of Jerusalem and is technically on the Palestinian-Arab side of the so-called 1967 “Green Line” — meaning it is located in Judea and Samaria and is still disputed by Israelis and Palestinians.

As read by famed host Alex Trebek, the viral $200 clue in the “Jeopardy!” category of “Where’s that church?” read: “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity.”

“The first contestant to buzz in, Katie Needle, responded: ‘What is Palestine?'” Fox News reported, “but Trebek rejected her answer, saying, ‘No.'”

“Another contestant, Jack McGuire, buzzed in with the reply, ‘What is Israel?'” Fox News continued. “Trebek ruled him correct.”

Needle, the contestant who first buzzed in incorrectly with “Palestine,” then smirked obliquely and poignantly as Trebek guided the program into a commercial break.

Reaction on Twitter was naturally mixed, with one’s view of the “Jeopardy!” judges presumably dictated by one’s over-arching views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself.

“Could be one of my favorite Jeopardy moments of all time,” captioned the New York Post’s Jon Levine.

“Her face throughout this is priceless,” he continued.

On the other hand, Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the anti-Israel group Arab American Institute, was clearly triggered. “Unacceptable!” he bemoaned. “Bethlehem is in the Palestinian territories which Israel illegally occupies (Katie Needle got the correct answer & was robbed).”

Actually, Baddar might want to get his facts straight. To be more specific, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently pronounced that Israeli “settlements” in Judea and Samaria are not, per se, illegal under international law.

“The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach towards Israeli settlements,” Pompeo said on November 18, as reported at the time by The Daily Wire. “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,” Pompeo continued. “However, in 1981, President Reagan disagreed with that conclusion and stated that he didn’t believe that the settlements were inherently illegal.”

“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan,” Pompeo stated. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law.”

Baddar and contestant Katie Needle, alas, are hardly the only ones who have recently been confused about Bethlehem’s fraught position in the crosshairs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As I pointed out and corrected last moth, left-wing Vox recently wrote a piece about the post-Oslo Accords modern history of the city of Bethlehem that was, in the accurate words of one venerable pro-Israel Twitter user, so radically biased as to be “inexcusably dishonest.”

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