This is a wonderful video about yet another way that people without any training in conflict resolution or diplomacy can become a part of the solution rather than part of the problem when it comes to global conflicts. I call them citizen diplomats, and I think they represent the infinite and creative ways that individuals can choose to move beyond the boundaries of group hatreds and fears.
© Marc Gopin
Starting after the Muslim Ramadan and the Jewish New Year, group of Palestinian and Israeli women will be meeting face to face in Jerusalem. Not for political reasons, not to cast blame on who’s right or wrong in the Middle East conflict – these women will be focusing on their waistline, and sharing a simple and common desire to lose weight.
“A Slim Peace” is a group founded in 2006 by Yael Luttwak, a 36-year-old American-Israeli filmmaker who grew up in Washington D.C. Struggling with her own weight issues in Israel, she rounded up a group of 14 Israeli and Palestinian women to document their shared experiences, as they met in Jerusalem over a six week period.While Weight Watchers in Israel was one of the first Weight Watchers branches to set up shop outside the U.S., Palestinian women only recently – thanks to American TV – have started grappling with the importance of healthy eating and dieting.
Learning about the ‘enemy’
Luttwak’s documentary – screened in New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival and around the world – exposes in a humorous way, the surprising connections these Israeli and Palestinian women make while learning about exercise, better nutrition, and the benefits of a homegrown Mediterranean diet. Some women even discovered that they had more in common with the “enemy” than they did with their own neighbors.
“Before, the only Israelis I knew were soldiers at checkpoints, I thought they were all brutal,” Palestinian student Enas Smoom told news service Reuters: “But in the group, we forget we are Israelis and Palestinians – we are just women talking about nutrition.”