It would be the easiest thing in the world to relax, sit back and watch the Beijing Olympics on my porch in Sderot.

Yet it is hard to forget flashbacks from exactly three years ago, when I traveled through Tibet- an enchanted nation with the highest altitude in the world that lives under the iron fist of the Beijing government.

I was exposed to Tibet, for the first time, while visiting Nepal, during a three week trek around the Annapurna Himalayan mountains, when our guide screened the movie: ” 7 years in Tibet’- starring Brad Pit. That film depicted the Chinese oppressive policies in of Tibet, including the brutal expulsion of the Dahli Lamah and his peaceful people of Tibet to Northern India. When I took a walk outside of that small movie hall I was overwhelmed of the same exact enormous mountain views of the movie- only from the other side- I then decided to travel to Tibet.

The dirt road from Nepal to Tibet- a 5 day jeep ride journey to Lasah the Tibetan capital, was packed all the way with laborors, Men, woman and Children, constructing Chinese paved roads in the highest altitudes in the world.

I traveled in Tibet for one month, and I felt the experience for the first time in my life the meaning of not being free, as people as a nation, not being able to worship your own g-d and belief. The Tibetans are prohibited to posses any picture or portrait of the Dahli Lamah or sculpture who is considered as a divine figure to them. While stopping through the villages in Tibet on the way to Lasah, our group, hailing from different parts of the world- gave out small pictures of the Dalhi Lamh. (That we photocopied from the “lonely plant’ guide book.) to the villagers. It is hard to forget witnessing a 70 year old woman, seeing, a photo of the Dalhi Lamah for the first time in 50 years. We watched, her excitement, while tears started to rush through her face…

Sneaking in to the ‘Potalah’, the temple of the Dalhi Lamah, after refusing to pay an expensive entrance fee for the Chinese government- we noticed a Tibetan man and a Tibetan woman constructing the roof, having a special ceremony and dance, while fixing up a holy place. All the while a huge Chinese flag waved in their background- Just in case they forget who’s in charge.

Passing through the country, we noticed how every single thing you want to do, see or experience any ritual, or Tibetan tradition- is transformed into a fee to the Chinese government. For any monastery, any trek or lake- you have to go through a travel agency, and the most expensive tourist attraction is to ride towards Mount Everest base camp, paying an expensive fee, having paved roads towards the mountain-

It’s seems like the Chinese turned Tibet into their Amusement park, charging for every single ride…

Walking around Lasah, getting friendly with the local Tibetans, that came a 6 day walk from different parts of Tibet, helping a Lamah devotee and his delegation, to send a ‘fax’.

Meeting a Tibetan History teacher, reveling to me that 90% of the Tibetan History was destroyed by the Chinese, and that in Lasah they only teach Chinese. “There are only 4 history teachers left in Tibet ” the teacher explained.

Arriving by coincidence to the village ‘Tabu’- in the ‘Spitty valley’- where I’ve witnessed a Tibetan Festival that occurs once in 7 years, being celebrated in India,

The importance of a homeland, where one can feel free and safe to celebrate traditional and beliefs, that have been celebrated for thousands of years.

Sitting in Sderot, writing and remembering these experiences from Tibet and India, appreciating the fact that we Jews live freely in our own land, thinking of the past few months, where I live, where more than 600 rockets, missiles and mortars have been launched Yes, unlike the people in Tibet, we live in our homeland. We are free. Yet where we live in Sderot we would like to sit back and relax and watch the Olympics, yet it is hard to relax, knowing our reality in f Sderot, where our freedom is being challenged.

It is equally hard to forget the reality of Tibet, where it is impossible for Tibetans to relax, because they cannot live in freedom under Chinese rule..

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Noam Bedein is a director of the Sderot Media Center. It is a media advocacy center which portrays the human face of Sderot and southern Israel under siege, to the international media and public. Noam, a native of Tzfat, grew up in Efrat, Israel. After finishing the Beit El Yeshiva High School, Noam learned at a pre-Army training program in the Jordan Valley and then served for three years as an IDF sergeant for an artillery scout unit along the Lebanese border. After the army, Noam served as an emissary for The Jewish Agency in Boston, Massachusetts and then traveled for a year in the Far East.

Upon his return to Israel, Noam relocated to Sderot and pioneered the “Sderot Media Center for the Western Negev Ltd", which has spawned the Sderot Media Center. In this position, Noam is a photojournalist, lecturer and gives briefings to foreign government officials, embassies, foreign press and student groups from around the world.

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