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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is relatively quiet right now. After several months of attacks and killings that started last October, Israeli officials say that wave of violence has slowly tapered off.

If this trend stays on track, it could mark yet another time that intense, headline-grabbing violence has surged, then waned, in this decades-long conflict. In other words, it looks like things are returning to a period of relative calm with no war or uprising.

In recent years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been playing out on a battleground that's barely a couple square inches in size. It's the labels of consumer goods produced in areas under Israeli occupation.

Last year the European Union, for example, instructed member countries to not allow imports of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be labeled as, "Made in Israel." The European Union, like the U.S. considers the settlements illegal.

At a long table in the Level Up restaurant, 11 stories above Gaza City, Basil Eleiwa got a cake with a sparkling candle on top — to honor his eatery's second birthday.

"We opened two or three weeks before the 2014 war," Level Up's founder and co-owner notes, referring to the conflict that began in July 2014 between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs the Gaza strip.

The restaurant had closed during the seven weeks of fighting.

"The building was hit a number of times," Eleiwa says. "It didn't fall down."

Driving instructor Mohammad al-Hattab, 33, remembers very well when police pulled him over last fall.

"It was a Sunday, about 1:30 p.m.," said Hattab in the office of the al-Jarajwa driving school in Gaza City. "I remember two guys on two motorcycles. They were in civilian clothes. One stopped in front of my car. He started shouting, 'Stop, stop, we are police.'"

Khaled Ali Hassanin opens his silver minivan and pulls into Cairo's busy traffic. He is a freelance driver. He used to ferry foreign tourists all around Egypt as a staff member of a tour company. It was a great job.

"There was so much work. I never worried about money. If I spent one [Egyptian] pound, I'd get two back. We had more work than we could handle," he says.

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After the regular Friday prayers at Cairo's Sultan Hussain Mosque, it was time to say prayers for the dead.

Worshippers outside for the overflow service stood in neat rows through four calls of "God is great." They said silent prayers in between.

Afterward, Khalid al-Kassam, 67, received hugs and claps on the back from many friends. His brother and sister-in-law, plus their son and his wife, were all on EgyptAir Flight 804.

Crispy fried sardines. Spicy labneh dip for sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers. Chilled arugula lemonade.

The top U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem, Counsel General Donald Blome, served Gaza-style cuisine at a garden party Monday night. Sound like the old-fashioned society pages? Nope. This is U.S. policy at work.

The event was designed to promote the potential of agribusiness in Gaza and tout new U.S. government investment in that crowded, narrow strip of Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean Sea.

Shahd Al-Swerki still lives in the place she was born: that crowded rectangle of land along the Mediterranean called the Gaza Strip. Swerki knew she wanted to raise her children differently than she had been raised in the conservative Palestinian society. Especially her first child, a girl.

"My father made me lose a chance to travel to Italy when I was 14," says Swerki, now 26. "Although my father allowed my two brothers to travel, to Turkey and Germany to continue their studies."

Starting Wednesday night at sunset, Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day. Commemorations continued in schools around the country Thursday, including in kindergarten classes.

This year, Israel is fully implementing a Holocaust curriculum for kindergartners.

"We need to teach the kindergarten teachers what to do on Yom Hashoah, because they have to make sense of the day," says Yael Richler-Friedman, using the Hebrew name for the remembrance day.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on Monday, a bomb went off on a bus in Jerusalem, triggering bad memories for many Israelis. This type of attack had not happened in recent years.

Blocks away from the explosion, people paced the sidewalks, talking on cellphones or watching the small screens for flashes of information about what happened. They saw black smoke twist into the sky and heard ongoing sirens as medics, police and soldiers raced to the scene.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

Hytham Harara is happy to show off his family's freshly rebuilt home in Gaza City's Shujaya neighborhood, one of the areas badly battered in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip.

The outside of the house is painted buttercream yellow, trimmed with red and tan. Inside, there's an artistic stone inlay on the floor of the living room, a stylized nightingale mural on one wall, and ornate wooden doors. They create a world far removed from much of the rubble that remains just outside.

SodaStream was at the heart of a controversy in the Middle East two years ago. The Israeli company, which makes a kitchen gadget to turn plain water into a flavored, carbonated drink at home, came under pressure for being an Israeli company operating in the West Bank.

What makes people change their minds? About the really hard stuff.

Covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the past three years, I've often wondered if people here ever do.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Editor's Note: In a conflict that dates back generations, Israelis and Palestinians rarely change their positions or their minds. NPR's Emily Harris, who has reported from Jerusalem since 2013, explores what prompts a relative few to adopt a new perspective. This is one of several stories.

Bassam Aramin was not born hating Israel, but he learned young.

For Ayman Al-Aloul, the first night in prison was the worst.

"I was cold. I was sick," the now-free head of Al Arab Now news agency, said in an interview in his Gaza City office. "I was thinking of all the things I've done in my life, but I couldn't blame myself because I didn't know why I was there."

Glint in the grass? Often, it's not even a nickel.

But last week, Israeli Laurie Rimon spotted a gleam while on a hike in northern Israel with several friends. It turned out to be a gold coin so unusual, Israeli archaeologists say there is only one other one with the same symbols in the world.

"It's extremely exciting," said Dr. Donald Ariel, an expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority, in comments released by the agency, which says the coin was struck by Roman Emperor Trajan in the year 107. "His gold coins are extremely rare."

Do good fences really make good neighbors? In the past months of increased violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian attackers have cut or jumped fences surrounding Israeli settlements several times, stabbing and twice killing Israeli civilians.

Israel made a decision last week that supporters are calling game-changing. Men and women will be allowed to worship together at the holiest place where Jews can legally pray. This could lead to other changes in Israel.

Batya Kallus, who helped negotiate the deal that led to the government decision, is jubilant.

"This is groundbreaking," she says. "We've reconceived what the Western Wall includes."

When his cellphone rang Friday night, on Nov. 13, Joel Touitou Laloux didn't answer. The sun had long since set, the Jewish Sabbath was under way, and he doesn't use electronics on Shabbat.

He recognized the number. One of his sons was calling from Paris. Laloux, who managed the Bataclan theater for decades until he and his family sold it in September, now lives in Ashdod, a coastal city in southern Israel.

Finally, after his son's number flashed three or four times, Laloux answered.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



You might not like your fava beans prepared the way Hannibal Lecter made them in the 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs. But they can be delightful pureed or sauteed.

In a West Bank settlement, Israelis are taking down a synagogue. The country's highest court ordered its removal because it was built without a permit on property owned by Palestinians.

It's a rare move, and the story of how this came to be reveals a heated debate around judicial activism, government money, and settlers' political power.

Two weeks ago, the Ayalet HaShahar synagogue in the Giv'at Ze'ev settlement was packed with young Israeli men.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is expected to be released from U.S. federal prison on Friday after 30 years behind bars for passing on U.S. government secrets to Israel.

When the Navy analyst was caught, his arrest initially caused consternation in Israel and denials that senior Israeli officials knew what he was doing.

But calls for to free Pollard early were soon taken up by Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited Pollard in prison in 2002. Netanyahu had served previously as prime minister, but held no public office at that time.

Since the start of this surge of Palestinian attacks on Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly accused Palestinian leaders of spreading lies about Israeli policies.

"There is no question that this wave of attacks is driven directly by incitement – incitement from Hamas, incitement from the Islamist movement in Israel, and incitement, I am sorry to say, from President [Mahmoud] Abbas and the Palestinian Authority," Netanyahu said Thursday in Berlin, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Saturday evening, October 3, Odel Bennett and her husband Aharon walked through a main passageway in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

They had taken their two young children to the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism for prayer. Then they were heading to Odel Bennett's parents' home in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim.

It wasn't not far, just a few blocks outside the Old City walls. But they didn't make it home that night. A Palestinian man attacked the couple with knives.

The recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence has focused on two weapons. Knives, used by Palestinians in most attacks against Israelis. And guns, which the Israeli security forces, and some civilians, have used to shoot attackers or suspected attackers.

Israelis say stopping knife attacks is hard because the weapon is so easy to get and to hide.

Israeli police are publishing pictures of knives they say were weapons in recent attacks. They're kitchen knives. Things you could buy at a supermarket.