Having forfeited his citizenship to leave Iraq in 1951, Iraqi-born Jew Nimrod Raphaeli still can't believe the opportunity he'll have this weekend.
"I never thought a day will come when I will register to vote in Iraqi elections," the 72-year-old Falls Church resident said last week after a trip to the New Carrollton Ramada Inn and Conference Center to make himself eligible to cast a ballot in a democratic election in Iraq.
A senior analyst with the Middle East Media Research Institute, Raphaeli was not sure he would actually put that right to vote into practice -- after all, he admits he has no intention of returning to his native country.
But, he said, since "they give me the right to vote, I wanted to register."
Raphaeli, though, is in the minority of the 15,000 Iraqi Jews in the United States. With only five polling centers in the entire United States available for Iraqi immigrants -- Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and Nashville are the others -- Raphaeli and others say most Iraqi Jews are unlikely to vote in large numbers because they have to make two trips to the election site, once last week to register and again sometime tomorrow through Sunday to vote.
In addition, some Iraqi Jews say that since they never plan to return to the country of their birth, they do not feel obligated to cast a ballot.
According to the article, the situation in Israel is even more complicated, with both registration and voting taking place only in Jordan.