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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5:09pm

Thu January 30, 2014
Parallels

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

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 9:55 am

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

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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4:26pm

Wed January 29, 2014
Parallels

A Palestinian Explains Why He Worked As An Israeli Informant

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:00 am

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

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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6:06am

Tue January 21, 2014
Parallels

Palestinian Herders Pick Up The Pieces After Homes Destroyed

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 2:14 pm

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

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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3:31am

Tue December 31, 2013
Middle East

What Israel's Release Of Palestinian Prisoners Means For Peace

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 10:17 am

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

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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3:29pm

Sat December 28, 2013
Parallels

What It Costs To Cover Your Noggin In Jerusalem

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 8:16 am

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

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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12:14pm

Tue December 17, 2013
Parallels

Israeli Startup Offers Kids Social Media Training Wheels

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 9:14 am

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

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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8:13am

Sun December 1, 2013
Middle East

Palestinian Refugees On Losing Side Of UN Budget Crunch

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

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

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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3:21am

Wed November 27, 2013
Parallels

Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 8:51 am

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

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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7:59am

Tue November 26, 2013
Parallels

Critical Of Nuclear Deal, Israel Wonders What May Come Next

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 8:50 am

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

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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7:43am

Sat November 16, 2013
Parallels

African Migrants Find An Uneasy Asylum In Israel

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 8:22 am

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

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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7:11am

Sun October 13, 2013
Parallels

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

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 8:29 am

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

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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3:21am

Thu October 3, 2013
Middle East

Israel Eases Restriction On Building Materials To Gaza Strip

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 9:05 am

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

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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6:21am

Mon September 23, 2013
Middle East

Syria's Move To Join Chemical Treaty Puts Pressure On Israel

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 8:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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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7:14am

Sun September 8, 2013
Middle East

'The Family House Was Hit': Syrian Attack Kills Palestinians

Originally published on Sun September 15, 2013 10:38 am

Ahmed al-Hurani, left, and his son, Bassam, live in the West Bank. Eleven members of their family living in Syria died in the chemical attack on Aug. 21.
Emily Harris NPR

The U.S. says more than 1,400 people were killed by chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21. Other sources have cited lower figures.

Not all victims were Syrian. A Palestinian family in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, is mourning the loss of 11 members.

'Everyone Inside Had Died'

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8:17am

Sun September 1, 2013
World

Last Flight Of Ethiopia-To-Israel Jewish Migration Program

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 3:54 pm

A boy waves the flag of his new homeland on the last flight of organized, large-scale emigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
Moshik Brin Courtesy of Moshik Brin

Last Wednesday, two jetliners flew 450 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

They were the last to arrive under an official program designed to bring to Israel all remaining Ethiopian Jews who are eligible for citizenship.

At the Tel Aviv airport just before the planes landed, everyone seemed excited. Relatives of people arriving from Ethiopia cheered when the plane doors opened.

Achenef Chekole arrived with his wife, two sons and two daughters. Family and friends who had already immigrated to Israel greeted them with hugs.

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5:13pm

Wed August 28, 2013
The Salt

The Latest Frontier In Gourmet Salt, From The Lowest Point On Earth

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 8:34 am

An Israeli man bathes in the Dead Sea. Spas have long touted the health benefits of the Dead Sea. So does Naked Sea Salt.
Sebastian Scheiner AP

When you go to the Dead Sea for a float in its extraordinarily buoyant waters, signs warn you not to drink a drop. "Did you swallow water?" one Dead Sea do's and don'ts list asks. "Go immediately to the lifeguard."

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3:33am

Wed August 28, 2013
The Salt

You Say 'Kubbeh,' I Say 'Kibbeh,' Let's Eat 'Em All Right Now

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 12:33 pm

At the Te'amim — or Tastes — cooking camp in Jerusalem, kids learn how to make kubbeh hamusta, a popular regional dumpling from Kurdistan.
Emily Harris NPR

People across the Levant love their dumplings, even if they can't agree on a name. Some say kubbeh; others say kibbeh. In Egypt, you might hear kobeba.

In Jerusalem, there are perhaps as many variations of the kubbeh as there are cultures in the city.

One popular version consists of meat wrapped in bulgur, then deep fried. Dip one in tahini for a crunchy snack.

But at the Te'amim — or Tastes — cooking camp in Jerusalem, chef Udi Shlomi prefers to teach kids to make kubbeh hamusta.

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5:38pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Parallels

Israeli Politician Stirs Up The Religious-Secular Debate

Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 8:19 am

Ruth Calderon, a religious scholar, recently became a member of Israeli's parliament and has been a leading voice on issues that often divide the country's religious and secular communities.
Emily Harris NPR

When Ruth Calderon is nervous, she does her nails.

"It helps," she grins. "Did you ever try? It puts you together. If you really are nervous you do bright red."

Calderon, 51, is a scholar and teacher of Jewish religious texts. She is also a novice Israeli politician, part of the new Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party that unexpectedly took 19 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, last January.

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3:07am

Mon August 12, 2013
Parallels

The Complications Of Getting Running Water In The West Bank

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 12:10 pm

Cement mixers in Rawabi, a planned Palestinian town in the West Bank, about 25 miles north of Jerusalem.
Emily Harris/NPR

Four enormous water tanks sit high on a hill in the West Bank. These hold the lifeblood for Rawabi, the first planned, privately developed Palestinian community, about 25 miles north of Jerusalem.

After five years, the first neighborhood is nearly built. But developer Bashar al-Masri is worried, because when it comes to water, Israel controls the spigot in the occupied West Bank.

"We're about to have people move into the city," he says, "and we still do not have a solid solution for the water."

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12:22pm

Mon August 5, 2013
Parallels

A West Bank Spring At The Center Of Deadly Struggle

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 10:00 am

Palestinian Bashir Tamimi, 57, drinks water from a spring on land that he says belongs to his family. Teenagers from a nearby Israeli settlement built collection pools and brought in picnic tables when they saw no one using the spring. It has now become a source of conflict.
Emily Harris/NPR

There's a pretty little spring in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where fresh water has dripped from the rock, probably for centuries.

Now it is the center of a deadly struggle over land.

Israeli teenagers from Halamish, the Jewish settlement a short walk uphill, found the spring several years ago. It flows from a small cave.

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5:22pm

Mon July 29, 2013
Middle East

Egyptian Crisis Slows Flow Through Gaza's Smuggling Tunnels

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

Workers in the Gaza Strip load a truck with sacks of cement that arrived via a smuggling tunnel from Egypt. Gazan officials say the Egyptian military has cracked down on smuggling tunnels that bring many goods into Gaza.
Emily Harris/NPR

At the very southern end of the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, sweaty men in bare feet carried bags of cement on their backs from a stack near a gaping hole in the ground to a waiting truck.

The cement had come through a tunnel from Egypt, a lucky load that made it.

Over the past several weeks, Egypt's military has cracked down on the smuggling tunnels that bring many goods into Gaza.

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7:54am

Sat July 20, 2013
News

Israel Agrees To Release Palestinian Prisoners

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 8:46 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

An Israeli cabinet member said today that officials plan to release some Palestinians who have been in prison in Israel for decades. This appears to be part of the diplomatic dance around restarting peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. After six visits to the region in six months, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced yesterday that there is enough agreement to begin initial talks next week or soon after in Washington, D.C.

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8:35am

Fri July 19, 2013
The Salt

The Ramadan Challenge: Shop And Cook While Hungry And Thirsty

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 11:31 am

Jehad Outteineh shops at a market near the Damascus gate in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Around the world, hundreds of millions of Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Outteineh is shopping for the family's iftar, the meal that breaks the fast.
Emily Harris/NPR

Around the world, hundreds of millions of Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began last week and continues until Aug. 7. That's 30 days of avoiding food and drink all day. But in many families, someone still has to prepare a hearty, and sometimes festive, dinner every night.

"Ramadan is a big change in routine," says Jehad Outteneh, a Palestinian in Jerusalem who shops and cooks for her family of eight.

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3:19am

Fri July 12, 2013
Parallels

Israel's Internal Battle Over Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 8:14 am

Soldiers close the gate to the tiny West Bank outpost, right next door to a Jewish settlement, where the HaHod platoon of the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yahuda battalion is stationed.
Emily Harris/NPR

Moshe Haim always wanted to be a soldier. The 20-year-old is now a sergeant, more than halfway through three years of service in the Israeli military.

But when he goes home on leave, he doesn't talk about his military experiences to any of his eight siblings, especially his brothers.

"I know that for my parents and my brothers, the first, best choice is to be in the yeshiva and study there," he says at a small West Bank outpost where he's stationed. "It wasn't good for me, but my brothers are still pure."

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7:51am

Wed July 3, 2013
Humans

In Israel, Unearthing A Bed Of Flowers For Eternal Rest

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:37 pm

Karen Jang places flowers on the the grave of her late boyfriend, Vietnam veteran Francis Yee, during her Memorial Day visit to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, in Dixon, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

If you died 55,000 years ago in the lands east of the Mediterranean, you'd be lucky to be buried in an isolated pit with a few animal parts thrown in. But new archaeological evidence shows that by about 12,000 years ago, you might have gotten a flower-lined grave in a small cemetery.

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4:39am

Mon July 1, 2013
Middle East

Kerry Believes Mideast Peace Talks 'Could Be Within Reach'

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 8:15 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State in the 1970s made the term shuttle diplomacy famous in the Middle East. Some of his successors used the same strategy, but it had been a while. Well, now it's John Kerry's turn. He emerged yesterday from long separate sessions with Palestinian and Israeli officials, saying the start of peace negotiations could be within reach. NPR's Emily Harris reports.

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11:58am

Sun June 30, 2013
The Two-Way

Kerry Sees 'Real Progress' After Latest Mideast Trip

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Issam Rimawi APA/Landov

(NPR's Emily Harris files this report from Jerusalem.)

Peace between Palestinians and Israelis? No? Progress? After four days of shuttle diplomacy, Secretary of State John Kerry says the two sides are getting closer to peace negotiations.

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