Friday, December 16, 2005

Iraqi-Israelis miss chance to vote in Amman

It's Election Day in Iraq. Inside a rundown, one-story building on a side street elderly men with thick mustaches drink small glasses of sweet tea, writes Orly Halpern in the Jerusalem Post.

They sit at cheap Formica tables and chat in Iraqi-accented Arabic as they play dumneh (dominoes) and tawleh (backgammon). The voice of Um Kulthum, the most famous Arabic singer, resonates in the background.

No, this is not a coffee shop in downtown Baghdad. And no one here has voted - nor will they.

It's Caf Ateret in a poor suburb of Petah Tikva, one of Iraqi Jews' most popular homes away from home.

More than 100,000 Iraqi Jews left Iraq for Israel in the early 1950s. Although they left behind their homes, passports and businesses, their language, music and food came with them.

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