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Pompeo & Friedman guide viewers through ‘ancient mysteries’ of Israel’s ‘Route 60: The Biblical Highway’

By Alex Traiman

The political achievements in the Middle East of two of America’s most impactful diplomats, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, were rooted in their strong faith in God and the values imbued by the mystical stories of the Bible.

Now both out of politics, the diplomatic duo has teamed up once again to document some of their key geopolitical triumphs and the motivational religious underpinnings that guided them, while filming an all-access tour of Israel’s most sacred sites.

“Route 60: Israel’s Biblical Highway” is a trek down the road that runs down the center of modern Israel. The 146-mile highway connects several cities fundamental to both Judaism and Christianity, including Jerusalem, Hebron, Beit El, Shiloh, Beersheva, Bethlehem and Nazareth.  

The unscripted tour was filmed over a four-day period by Friedman, a devout Jew, and Pompeo, a devout Christian. As Friedman says in the film’s opening: “Route 60 connects many holy sites and biblical events in what could be called the original Bible Belt. It has mile markers, human and divine, to memorialize the acts of celebration, suffering and salvation that are woven into Israel’s history.”

Most of the sites toured are located in the biblical provinces of Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to by many around the world as the West Bank. While many recognize the province for its millennia-old biblical importance, today many view the contested parcel only through the prism of a decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I want people to care about Judea and Samaria,” Friedman told JNS. “I want them to stop thinking about it as some part of the world that is distant and removed from them, that doesn’t matter, that’s just a piece of territory that’s subject to violence or subject to disputes or subject to claims of legality or illegality.”

“There is a lot of apathy and a lot of ignorance about many of these places,” he added.

r to Israel David Friedman visit the “Pilgrimage Road” in Jerusalem’s Old City. 

The ancient road, which has only been partially uncovered, served as the main thoroughfare between the Shiloah Pool, where pilgrims would ritually purify themselves, and the Second Temple. Researchers believe it was probably constructed during the time of the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. Credit: Courtesy.

For example, in the film, Friedman asks Pompeo, “How big do you think the entire Old City of Jerusalem is?” before answering, “one square kilometer [approximately 6/10 of a mile]. That’s it.”

To which Pompeo replies: That’s “a lot of history in that little space. Per square foot it’s got the most history anywhere in the world.”

For most tourists, many of the locations Friedman and Pompeo traveled to are either rarely visited or off-limits. A trip to the original and intact altar of Joshua required military clearance, for example. For viewers, “Route 60” is likely to provide an exclusive first look into the sites they read about in scripture.  

PHOTO: Pompeo and Friedman

CAP: Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Ambassador

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