Who knew weight loss groups and peace efforts belonged in the same room?
In a New York interview with Salon.com, filmmaker of “A Slim Peace” and founder of the nonprofit born from the film’s success, Slim Peace Group, Yael Luttwak describes her reasons for initiating a women’s-only weight loss group in Jerusalem comprised of Bedouin Arabs, Palestinians, religious Jewish settlers, and secular urban Jews:
“I believe in peace. I care a lot about the Middle East. I care about the fact that Israelis and Palestinians are continuously killing each other, and I’d like that to stop. I wanted to see what would happen if we brought them together over something as universal as weight loss – because who doesn’t care about their weight?”
During the second Palestinian uprising, Yael herself attended a Weight Watchers group in Tel Aviv. According to a 2013 New York Times article, it was during this time that she imagined the idea of a weight-loss group – perhaps even between Israel and Palestine’s leaders at the time – as a recipe for peacemaking. Soon after, Yael got to work — marrying a desire to resolve daily conflict in Tel Aviv through a weekly women’s weight-loss group that recruited Israeli and Palestinian women who have, due to history and culture, lived fiercely against one another. As demonstrated in her documentary, meetings were tense at first – this was the first time a women’s weight-loss group attempted to bring Jews and Arabs into the same room and focused on one cause. But perhaps because we’re human – and share just that – those who attended the first meeting returned for the second. And each thereafter.
What began as a documentary morphed into an unprecedented international women’s weight loss and peacemaking group that’s weaving Arab and Jewish women together.