In this week’s episode of “Top Story,” JNS editor-in-chief speaks with former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman about “Route 60: The Biblical Highway,” the new documentary film he has produced along with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The film shows the pair taking the north-south highway from Nazareth in the Galilee through Judea and Samaria, including Jerusalem and Hebron all the way to Beersheva, stopping at every site of biblical significance to Jews and Christians.
According to Friedman, the point of the film is to remind people who think the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs is merely a real estate transaction of the deep Jewish historical and spiritual roots in the land of Israel. While the film largely sticks to a discussion of geography, the Bible and faith, politics is still part of any discussion about these places.
To those who might argue that bringing up the Bible and Jewish history will make it harder to achieve peace, Friedman has an answer. “I’ll tell you flat out, if the price of peace is negating our biblical heritage and destroying our national DNA, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. It’s not who we are. You know, we’re around today after 3,500 years, and we’ve been sustained only by one reason: by this book—this book that we happen to read every week, this book, this gift that God gave us, the Bible.”
As for contemporary politics, Friedman said he was glad that the Biden administration has not tried to undermine the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that the Trump administration achieved. But he did say that he found President Joe Biden’s treatment of Benjamin Netanyahu and refusing to meet him in Washington to be “inexplicable.”
He said he worried about the impact of the debate over judicial reform in Israel both in terms of support in the United States and for Jewish unity. “This is not about judicial reform. This is about almost the soul of the state. And there are those who want Israel to be secular and those who want it to be religious. And I want it to be everything. I want Israel to be a home for every single Jew, and to make every Jew feel at home. We’ve got to make it work for everybody and stop screaming at each other.”
Friedman was equally blunt about the ongoing indictments of former President Donald Trump, for whom he worked as a lawyer and ambassador. “That is the stuff of banana republics. That is Stalinism when you use the judicial system to defeat your enemies.”
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