Emily Harris

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.

Over her career, Harris has served in multiple roles within public media. She first joined NPR in 2000, as a general assignment reporter. A prolific reporter often filing two stories a day, Harris covered major stories including 9/11 and its aftermath, including the impact on the airline industry; and the anthrax attacks. She also covered how policies set in Washington are implemented across the country.

In 2002, Harris worked as a Special Correspondent on NOW with Bill Moyer, focusing on investigative storytelling. In 2003 Harris became NPR's Berlin Correspondent, covering Central and Eastern Europe. In that role, she reported regularly from Iraq, leading her to be a key member of the NPR team awarded a 2005 Peabody Award for coverage of the region.

Harris left NPR in December 2007 to become a host for a live daily program, Think Out Loud, on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Under her leadership Harris's team received three back to back Gracie Awards for Outstanding Talk Show, and a share in OPB's 2009 Peabody Award for the series "Hard Times." Harris's other awards include the RIAS Berlin Commission's first-place radio award in 2007 and second-place in 2006. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University in 2005-2006.

A seasoned reporter, she was asked to help train young journalist through NPR's "Next Generation" program. She also served as editorial director for Journalism Accelerator, a project to bring journalists together to share ideas and experiences; and was a writer-in-residence teaching radio writing to high school students.

One of the aspects of her work that most intrigues her is why people change their minds and what inspires them to do so.

Outside of work, Harris has drafted a screenplay about the Iraq war and for another project is collecting stories about the most difficult parts of parenting.

She has a B.A. in Russian Studies from Yale University.

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Middle East
3:11 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Jordan Valley's Future At Stake In Mideast Peace Talks

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 5:19 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The River Jordan - where we're going next - is the dividing line between Jordan to the east, and the Israeli-occupied areas to the west. When you hear that heavily Palestinian zone called the West Bank, that's what it means: the West Bank of the Jordan. Its future is at stake in peace negotiations. Israelis see the River Valley as a vital security zone. Palestinians call it their breadbasket.

NPR's Emily Harris reports.

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Parallels
2:28 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Scarlett Johansson's Middle East Flap ... Over Soda

Scarlett Johansson recently became SodaStream's spokeswoman and appeared at an event at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Jan. 10 in New York City. The actress soon found herself engulfed in controversy because of her affiliation with a company that has a factory in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Mike Coppola Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SodaStream

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 7:55 am

When celebrities get drawn into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wittingly or not, controversy is sure to follow.

American actress Scarlett Johansson is the latest to discover this ironclad law of Middle East politics. And the issue is soda.

Johansson has for the past eight years been the celebrity representative for Oxfam International, the global aid organization.

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Parallels
3:30 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

A Palestinian Explains Why He Worked As An Israeli Informant

Abdel Hamid el-Rajoub, a Palestinian, became an informant for Israel while serving time in an Israeli prison. Palestinian informants play a key role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though both sides can be reluctant to speak about it. Rajoub, who now lives in Israel, says he is no longer an informant.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 9:00 am

It took four years in a prison cell for Palestinian Abdel Hamid el-Rajoub to decide to work as an Israeli informant. Not that he ever planned it that way. Rajoub is in his 60s now. He grew up in a Palestinian village near Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He says he was 19, an emotional young man, when he got involved in fighting Israel.

"It was my right," he says, "to fight Israel and the occupation."

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Middle East
2:41 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

In Israeli Prison, An Elaborate Theater Of Interrogation

Ala'a Miqbel (shown here with his wife and their youngest son in their Gaza City apartment) was held for nearly four weeks in an Israeli prison, then released without charges. There, he met the "sparrows" — Palestinians who appear to be fellow prisoners but are actually gathering information for the Israelis.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 3:09 pm

Ala'a Miqbel phoned his wife and his boss on the morning of Aug. 26 last year, just to say he was almost at the Erez crossing. That's the checkpoint between the Gaza Strip, where Miqbel lives, and Israel.

The U.S. Consulate had invited Miqbel to attend a conference in the West Bank. Although he'd been to Ramallah for work several years ago, Israeli security wanted to interview him before granting a travel permit this time.

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Parallels
4:06 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Palestinian Herders Pick Up The Pieces After Homes Destroyed

Nehida Bne Menneh stands amid the rubble of her home in a small Palestinian herding camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It was destroyed for being in an area Israel long ago declared a closed military zone.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 12:14 pm

NPR's Emily Harris sent this postcard after visiting a community of Palestinian herders whose camp was demolished for being in a closed Israeli military zone.

It's about 20 minutes by four-wheel drive up a rocky canyon to Khirbet 'Ein Karzaliyah, a near-barren plain with a small spring. A handful of families live here, including more than a dozen children and over 700 sheep and goats.

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Middle East
4:48 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Palestinian Leaders Defied Villagers' Fury In Protecting Israelis

Palestinians (front and left) try to prevent fellow Palestinians from the village of Qusra from attacking a group of Israeli settlers after they sparked clashes upon entering the village near Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Jan. 7.
Jaafar Ashtiyeh AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:19 am

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, incidents between Jewish settlers and Palestinians happen almost every day. Olive trees and grapevines are destroyed, tires are slashed, mosques are defaced. It's not just property destruction. Violence has cost lives on both sides.

Figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, show that settlers are responsible for the vast majority of incidents, which have nearly quadrupled since 2006, when OCHA began keeping track.

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Middle East
3:29 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Remembered

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 10:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's get the latest now from Israel, where former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be buried today. Sharon died Saturday, after spending eight years in a coma. Here's NPR's Emily Harris.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: The memorial service for Ariel Sharon opened with a prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing in foreign language)

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Middle East
4:39 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Kerry Leaves Jerusalem Without Much Progress On Peace Deal

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. Secretary of State John Kerry spent much of last week in the Mideast, where he tried to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders towards a peace agreement. Yesterday he flew to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to update the monarchs of those countries on the progress of the talks. But as NPR's Emily Harris reports, if there has indeed been progress, it remains under wraps.

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Middle East
1:31 am
Tue December 31, 2013

What Israel's Release Of Palestinian Prisoners Means For Peace

Freed Palestinian prisoner Omar Masoud served 20 years of a minimum 90-year sentence for killing Ian Feinberg, an Israeli, in 1993. Israel freed Masoud in October as part of a political deal to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 8:17 am

On Tuesday, Israel released another two-dozen Palestinian prisoners convicted of violent crimes against Israelis.

It's the third of four groups to be released before their sentences are up, part of a confidence-building deal that helped restart peace negotiations in July.

Palestinian Omar Masoud was a prisoner freed in one of the previous releases. He says that when he agreed to kill an Israeli working in the Gaza Strip, he expected consequences.

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Parallels
1:29 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

What It Costs To Cover Your Noggin In Jerusalem

A salesman at Ferster Quality Hats in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood Mea Shearim suggests rabbit felt hats made in Hungary for around $200. Twice the price of made-in-China, but he says they last much longer.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 6:16 am

Just how far does a dollar go? We'll try to answer that question as part of an occasional series on what things cost around the world. In this installment, NPR's Emily Harris looks at the price of headwear in Jerusalem.

In Israel and the Palestinian territories, headgear is big business. How much does it cost to cover up for different religions, traditions and fashions?

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Business
2:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Frustrated Documentary Maker Opens Cafe In West Bank

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 6:16 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, economic growth has been slowing this year. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed an ambitious plan to lure large-scale foreign investment. But details of his plan remain under wraps. Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in the West Bank.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's Emily Harris has this profiles of one new one.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Before opening a cafe, Palestinian Tariq el-Ayyan worked on documentary films.

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Middle East
2:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

In Little Town Of Bethlehem, U.S. Aid On Display At Christmas Market

A Palestinian family poses for pictures by the creche in Bethlehem's Manger Square.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 6:15 am

In Bethlehem's Manger Square, Palestinian singer Omar Kamal entertained a crowd of several hundred people this week. Young men met friends; parents snapped pictures of children by a nativity scene next to a giant artificial Christmas tree. A Santa Claus arrived by motorbike.

Bethlehem resident Suhair Issa loves Christmas in her hometown.

"Most people come at night," she says. "They like to drink and eat and buy sweets. It's very nice."

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Parallels
10:14 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Israeli Startup Offers Kids Social Media Training Wheels

Many children want to participate in social media sites like Facebook before they're old enough to legally sign up.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 7:14 am

Two years ago, Itay Eshet's daughter told him she wanted a Facebook account. She was 10 years old.

Facebook's great, Eshet told her, but it's not for kids. So instead they built a new social network for preteens called Nipagesh, which means "let's meet" in Hebrew.

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Middle East
9:27 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Floods Drive Thousands From Gazan Homes

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 7:14 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The sun is shining in Israel and the Palestinian territories today, a welcome reprieve after a major winter storm. Nearly two feet of snow crippled Jerusalem and Ramallah over the past few days. Floods forced thousands of people in the Gaza Strip to leave their homes.

NPR's Emily Harris has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN)

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Middle East
3:03 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Political Divisions Contribute To Limited Electricity In Gaza

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 6:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn now to the Middle East. In the Gaza Strip, it makes for good news that sewage is no longer flooding the streets. The sewage was one byproduct of an ongoing power shortage that seems to be easing, although just slightly. Hospitals and government offices should soon get electricity for more than the few hours a day, which has been the norm for weeks now.

NPR's Emily Harris reports that people expect, though, that they will still be cooking on open fires until Palestinian leaders mend a political split.

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Middle East
6:24 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Palestinian Refugees On Losing Side Of UN Budget Crunch

Palestinian refugee Lawahez Burghal stuffs tripe with rice and garbanzo beans for her family in their home in the Amari refugee camp in the West Bank. Many refugees still depend on the United Nations for food, health care and education.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 6:17 am

The United Nations agency that provides basic health care and education to Palestinian refugees doesn't have enough money to pay local salaries this month.

The shortfall could directly affect 30,000 teachers, doctors and social workers, as well as the people using their services in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

Filling Basic Needs

Sit for an hour in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency office in the al-Amari camp for Palestinian refugees, and you get a sense of what people expect the agency to provide.

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Parallels
1:21 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer

Givot Olam CEO Tovia Luskin expects to drill 40 wells and build a pipeline to a refinery on the coast. The company already has "proven and probable" reserves of 12.5 million barrels of oil. Luskin chose where to drill based on a passage from the Bible.
Emily Harris/ NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:51 am

There's an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.

"Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia," he claims. "And it's not a joke."

But that oil will be difficult to reach, if it can be recovered at all. The oil he's talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.

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Middle East
3:14 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Critical Of Nuclear Deal, Israel Wonders What May Come Next

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Cabinet meeting at his office Sunday in Jerusalem. Netanyahu says world powers gave away too much for too little in the interim deal reached last weekend with Iran over its nuclear program.
Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:50 am

Many Israelis are critical of the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program, and some are even more worried about what could follow.

"What's important here is that both sides decided: We have to start consulting. Right now," says Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, now head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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Middle East
9:25 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Israel Slams Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:37 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Israel has already criticized this deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the agreement as a historic mistake. As NPR's Emily Harris reports from Jerusalem, Israel will keep a military option on the table.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Prime Minister Netanyahu not only called this deal a historical mistake, he said the world is in more danger now than before the agreement was signed.

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Middle East
2:44 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Israelis Disagree On How To Keep Iran From Nuclear Weapons

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 7:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been lobbying hard against an agreement with Iran that would ease economic sanctions if it allows Tehran to continue enriching nuclear material in any way. Israelis overwhelmingly agree that the Iranians should not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

The difference of opinion comes on the range of views of how to stop them. NPR's Emily Harris reports.

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Parallels
5:43 am
Sat November 16, 2013

African Migrants Find An Uneasy Asylum In Israel

Philip Giray came from Eritrea to Israel two years ago. He is one of some 60,000 migrants living in Israel.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 6:22 am

The scissors never seem to stop in Sami's barber shop off a pedestrian street in south Tel Aviv.

Fresh out of the barber's chair, Philip Giray says he left Eritrea two years ago. Smugglers helped the 20-year-old cross into Sudan and Egypt. Then he snuck into Israel.

"We come here, we ask asylum here, they doesn't welcome us," Giray says. "They punish us psychological, you know?"

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Middle East
3:01 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Kerry Tries To Get Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Back On Track

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 10:21 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The peace talks between Palestinian and Israeli officials appear to have hit their roughest patch since the process restarted last summer. Secretary of State John Kerry spent today in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

As NPR's Emily Harris reports, Kerry met with leaders from both sides in an attempt to keep the talks on track.

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Parallels
9:53 am
Tue November 5, 2013

What Story Would You Like To See From Jerusalem?

NPR's Jerusalem correspondent Emily Harris gathers sounds in the Gaza Strip, where sewage is being pumped into the Mediterranean Sea.
Courtesy Emily Harris

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 10:21 am

Before I moved to Jerusalem to cover Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, I asked friends and acquaintances what they wanted to know about these places.

Everyone knew something about the long-running conflict, the repeat political players, and the ancient religions and the historic significance of the land. But people had plenty of questions, too.

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Middle East
2:49 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Israeli-Palestinian Talks Progressing, Despite Sore Spots

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 6:56 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

In a few hours, Israel will release 26 Palestinian men from prison. These are men who were jailed for attacks that killed Israelis in the 1980s and early '90s. They're being freed before they finish serving their full sentences. The release of these prisoners is part of a deal to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.

NPR's Emily Harris reports.

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Parallels
1:10 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Women Lose Election, Vow To Return

Michal Chernovitsky was one of several ultra-Orthodox women who ran for a seat on the all-male local council in El'ad, Israel. None of the women won a spot in Tuesday's vote, but they said they would continue to be active in politics.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:31 am

We wanted to follow up on our story about the ultra-Orthodox women in Israel who were running for the local council in El'ad, or Forever God, a small, religious Jewish town.

Five women had challenged not only El'ad's norms, but practices across Israel's various ultra-Orthodox communities just by getting their names on the ballot and running a campaign.

None of them won a seat, but they say they will be back.

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Parallels
2:50 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Election In Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Town Tests Gender Norms

Candidates for town council Michal Chernovitsky (left) and Adina Ruhamkin campaign in a park in El'ad, or Forever God, a small religious community in Israel. They could be the first women on El'ad's council, and the first ultra-Orthodox women to win public office in Israel.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 6:29 am

Voters across Israel choose new mayors and city councilors in local elections Tuesday. In one small town, a handful of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women are defying the norms of their community by running for office.

On a recent day, children mob two women in skirts, stockings and purple T-shirts in a neighborhood park in El'ad, or Forever God. The women are candidates for town council. As part of their get-the-word-out campaign, they're blowing up balloons for kids.

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Middle East
3:58 am
Wed October 16, 2013

A Graduate Student's Odyssey From Gaza To Indianapolis

Palestinian travelers wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah crossing terminal in the southern Gaza Strip earlier this month.
Said Khatib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 6:30 am

To get a small sense of Fida'a Abuassi's odyssey, start on June 28, days before the Egyptian coup. She had just returned to her native Gaza Strip via Cairo after spending the year in New York on the U.S. government-sponsored Fulbright student program.

"I came back to Gaza, and then they declared that they will close the border until further notice," she says.

Her goal was to get to Indiana by August to start her master's program at the University of Indianapolis.

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Parallels
5:11 am
Sun October 13, 2013

A Decade On, A Boy, A Ball And A West Bank Wall

A decade ago, Israel's separation barrier cut off Ishaq Amer's home from its Palestinian village.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 6:29 am

A little more than a decade ago, in an effort to improve security, Israel began building a physical barrier in and around the West Bank.

The Amer family is among the Palestinians whose lives were disrupted. The concrete wall and fence cut them off from their village. Their son was separated from his soccer buddies, the most important thing in the world to him at the time.

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Parallels
8:58 am
Thu October 10, 2013

In Israel, The Mystery Of Postage Stamps That Don't Add Up

In Israel, the price of sending mail overseas has dropped recently.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 11:40 am

We had a complicated problem on our kitchen table in Jerusalem. A stack of homemade birthday thank-you notes, tucked in brightly colored envelopes, ready to be whisked off to friends in the U.S. And a commemorative packet of Israeli stamps in all sorts of different denominations, none of which added up to the 6.20 NIS (6 New Israeli Shekels, 20 agorot, or $1.74) it took to mail a letter or postcard from here to the States.

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Middle East
1:21 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Israel Eases Restriction On Building Materials To Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect trucks loaded with iron arriving from Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Sept. 22. The delivery of the materials to the private sector is a first since the Hamas takeover in 2007.
Hatem Moussa AP

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 7:05 am

Israel eased a major restriction on the Gaza Strip last week. For the first time in six years, limited commercial shipments of cement and iron were allowed through Israel into Gaza.

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