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.

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.

More than 1 million Arabs are citizens of Israel. And over the years, some 350,000 Jewish Israelis have moved to settlements in the West Bank. If the Israelis and Palestinians were to make peace and set a formal border, what would happen to all these people?

Israel is preparing a prisoner release as part of the peace process with Palestinians. Arab citizens of Israel are set to be let go, a move more controversial than releasing non-citizen Palestinians.

Isra al-Modallal is the first woman to be the public face of Hamas, the conservative group that rules the Palestinian territory. "Brilliant" is how one Gaza observer describes the decision.

As the standoff continues in Crimea, Russia warns the U.S. against "hasty" sanctions. Ukraine officials accuse pro-Russian forces of armed aggression.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We begin this hour in Ukraine where Russian troops took control of more areas in Crimea today, including a ferry terminal between the Ukrainian peninsula and Russia. Western countries are strategizing a response to the crisis with many meetings and several high level visits to Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry is due in Kiev tomorrow.

On a sunny Friday in August last year, Judah Abughorab paddled a small, flat boat over the blue Mediterranean Sea about 100 yards off the Gaza Strip's sandy shore.

He doesn't really like to eat fish, but catching them is the unemployed construction worker's favorite pastime.

That day, he netted a half a dozen. Then, through the clear water, he spotted something that made him look again.

"It looked like a person," he says. "Eyes, a face, hands, fingers."

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There is a fake John Kerry wandering around Jerusalem these days. He stars in several satirical videos criticizing the U.S. effort to negotiate a peace agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The State Department suggests it is just the latest sign that Kerry has put real pressure on Israel to move toward a peace deal. NPR's Emily Harris reports.

Disputes between Palestinians and Israelis are a constant in their decades-old conflict, and that's what the wider world usually hears about.

But there are also near constant internal disagreements among Israelis. And Palestinians have divergent views too. On a recent trip through the Jordan Valley, which is deep inside the Israeli-occupied West Bank, near the border with Jordan, I spoke with Israelis and Palestinians about their internal differences.

Here's a sampling of those conversations:

An Israeli Cafe Owner and A Regular Customer

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.

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.

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.

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?

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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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