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.

High on a West Bank hilltop, the extended Dissi family gathered on a recent weekend for a day out in the Palestinian countryside.

Aunts, uncles and cousins came to see the half-built weekend home of Taysier Dissi, an electrician and father of three. The concrete-block shell, with windows set and stairs roughed in, is placed just right for the view.

This will be the family's getaway from their home in the cramped confines of Jerusalem's often tense Old City. Dissi paid about $30,000 for one-third of an acre here, bought from a Palestinian-Canadian company, UCI.

In spring, West Bank almond trees bloom white. Dry brown hills turn temporarily green and are dotted with bright wildflowers. The ewes and nanny goats of Bedouin herders that wander the West Bank eat well this time of year.

It's cheese season.

French Jews, often with roots in North Africa, have been immigrating to Israel since that country's founding. The community has changed with the times, and after last week's attacks in Paris, is expected to grow — and change — again.

Samuela Mass left Paris in October last year. The 28-year-old French Jew came to Israel for a better life for him and his future family — and to escape violence.

Israel's Antiquities Authority Sunday announced it had indicted six men accused of stealing antiquities and destroying archaeological sites in the southern Judean Desert — the same desert where the Dead Sea Scrolls — religious texts dating from the third century BC — were found.

The announcement also revealed a connection to the ancient world: They had lice combs, too. The Antiquities Authority released a photo of what it says is a 2000-year-old lice comb captured along with the men.

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After a spate of deadly violence in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to speed up home demolitions of attackers as a punishment and deterrent.

During the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in the late 1980s, Palestinians refused to work in Israeli companies. Many threw stones and firebombs at Israeli troops.

During the second intifada, which erupted in 2000, suicide bombers repeatedly blew up public places in Israel, such as cafes, night clubs and buses.

Israeli Charlotte Slopack-Goller didn't ride the bus for a few years then.

"Now I take the buses without thinking," she says.

When the Israelis and the Palestinians were trying to make peace back in the 1990s, one of the buzzwords was "normalization," the attempt by both sides to learn to live together.

But in these days of ceaseless friction, normalization has become something of a dirty word, particularly for Palestinians. Nearly 50 Palestinians from the West Bank encountered these bitter sentiments when they went to Israel for an unusual one-day trip last week.

Gaza businessman Maher Abu Ghanema wants to rebuild his currency exchange shop in Gaza City, but because for years Israel has restricted cement supplies to only specific projects, it's been slow going.

"I need at least 3 tons of cement," says Ghanema, who after two weeks of effort found 1 ton. "Whatever we got is from the black market, and it costs four or five times higher than the original price. Plus, it's low-quality."

In a temporary warehouse in Israel's ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak, Shaul Kalimi examines etrogs.

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The beginning of Israel's ground invasion Thursday night was loud. Explosions lit up the sky to the north and east and boomed throughout the Gaza Strip.

But Friday started pretty quietly for Rashad Abu Tawila.

Cloaked in black from head to toe, Iman el-Kaas cries in her mother's home in the Gaza Strip. Iman is in mourning.

Her husband, Anas el-Kaas, was killed by an Israeli attack that hit their apartment in Gaza early Friday morning. He was 33 years old, a pharmacist with two young children. They had just moved in a few months ago.

"I thought that apartment was gift, but it was the place he would be killed," Iman says. "Why? Why did they kill him?"

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Three Israeli teenagers are being buried side-by-side today. They were kidnapped almost three weeks ago while hitchhiking in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and it now appears they were shot and killed almost immediately. Israeli soldiers found their bodies yesterday under a pile of rocks in a West Bank field. Israel blames the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the murders. NPR's Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem, but she's spending sometime in Washington right now, so she joins us in our studios. Emily, good morning.

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm David Greene. Let's examine now what has changed in the Middle East. Palestinians went ahead yesterday with a plan to form a unity government. It includes Fatah, the party that recognizes Israel, and Hamas which does not. The United States says it will work with that unity government. In a moment, we'll ask Israel's ambassador to the U.S. what Israel will do. We begin with NPR's Emily Harris in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the cabinet for a unity government joining his Fatah party with Hamas. It resolves a 7-year-old split but also draws condemnation from Israeli leaders.

Pope Francis is in Jerusalem. He stopped at the holiest Jewish and Muslim sites in that city. The pope has invited Palestinian and Israeli leaders to join him in Rome to discuss Mideast peace.

Outside a small organic produce shop in Gaza City, a large sidewalk placard reads "Good Earth" in Arabic in big red letters, followed by "Organic produce, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides." The same message is on the shop's awning.

But "people don't notice the signs, they come in and ask, 'Why these [high] prices?,' " says Rami al-Naffar, the clerk here.

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Yael Mizrachi, a 30-year-old Israeli woman, has been to many matchmakers.

"Too many," she says, rolling her wide dark eyes and tossing her shoulder-length hair.

Matchmakers are the traditional way to find a mate in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to which Mizrachi belongs. But she is not entirely traditional.

"I identify myself as a modern ultra-Orthodox," Mizrachi says.

From the Palestinian perspective, a big obstacle to peace is the presence of 350,000 Israelis on land expected to be part of any future Palestinian state. Two of those settlers offer their viewpoints.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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World leaders are convening in New York this week for the United Nations' General Assembly. And among other things, they're facing some potentially dramatic changes in arms control in the Middle East. Syria might give up it chemical weapons. Iran is signaling that it might negotiate with the West over its nuclear plans. From Jerusalem, NPR's Emily Harris looks at how this might affect Israel and its own weapons programs.

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