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.

What would make you move to Gaza?

The small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast is run by Hamas, the Islamist group Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. Earlier this year the World Bank said Gaza probably had the highest rate of unemployment in the world. It can be difficult to get into Gaza, and, if you are Palestinian, very difficult to get the necessary Israeli or Egyptian permission to leave.

Three wars between Israel and Hamas since 2008 killed more than 3,000 Gazans, the majority civilians.

Ora Mor Yosef, a disabled Israeli woman, challenged her country's rules about surrogate parenting and lost the baby.

Single and in her 30s, her efforts began by asking her traditional Jewish family what they thought.

"I wanted to hear how they would feel if I were a single parent," Mor Yosef says. "To my joy they agreed, and gave their blessing."

The next step was getting pregnant. But Mor Yosef has progressive muscular dystrophy and doctors advised her against using a sperm donor and carrying a child herself.

In a small town perched on a steep mountain in northern Israel, Ali Shalalha has managed a remarkable achievement.

Fifteen years ago, only 12 percent of seniors at Beit Jann Comprehensive School passed the exams that are the prerequisite for higher education in Israel. Last year, and the year before, every single senior passed.

Beit Jann ranks second now in the high school graduation exams, known as bagrut, for all of Israel. This year, Shalalha — the school's principal — is hoping for first.

A dozen internationally acclaimed photographers were set loose in Israel and the West Bank. Most had never been in either place before. The aim was to try to see anew a part of the world that's been thoroughly photographed, long mythologized and often fought over.

Recycling sewage water has helped free Israel, a desert country, from depending on rain.

Treated sewage water provides close to a quarter of Israel's demand for water, right behind desalination, the other major process that has eased Israel's fear of drought.

But making that water — from toilets, showers, and factories — clean enough to use is challenging.

In the waiting room of a courthouse in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week, a clerk called defendants to pick up their files while loudspeaker announcements blared courtroom assignments.

A skinny young man in jeans and a blue T-shirt waited to hear his name. Ayman Mahareeq, who just turned 24, faced charges of insulting officials based on comments he'd posted on Facebook.

"One of my posts was about how Palestinian security forces act whenever Israeli forces enter the West Bank," Mahareeq says. "They withdraw and hide."

This is a story about Middle East cooperation that seems to defy all the rules.

Israel's long-standing policy has been to isolate Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip. And Israel has long accused Qatar of financing Hamas, including providing money used for rockets fired into Israel during last summer's war.

So why, then, would Israel permit a Qatari official to visit Gaza and spend tens of millions of dollars in the coastal territory?

Taking the salt out of seawater helped Israel move from the constant threat of drought to a plentiful supply of water, but Israel has learned that desalination is not the only answer.

Ben-Gurion University's Institute for Water Research is deep in Israel's Negev desert and away from the sea. Prof. Jack Gilron, head of the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment, and other researchers here test concepts in desalination to see if they might hold promise for industrial development.

During the upheaval of last year's war between Hamas and Israel, at least 23 Gazans were deliberately killed by their fellow Palestinians, according to a report out this week from Amnesty International.

Amnesty blames the killings on Hamas, which runs Gaza. It says those killed were accused of being collaborators — spies for Israel — and many were awaiting trial.

Haneen Radi learned to run by walking.

"I used to walk," says the 36-year-old mother of four. "I saw people running and said, I'll try that."

Radi took off. In the decade since then she's finished eight marathons, and she now coaches a girls' running club with 80 members.

"I'm another person when running," Radi says. "I'm happy, I'm smiling."

A few months ago, Radi decided to organize a marathon in Tira, her hometown in northern Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved to the soccer field. Next week, at the annual meeting of FIFA — the international body governing football — its 209 members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to suspend Israel from international play.

Palestinian soccer officials put the proposal on FIFA's agenda, saying Israeli policies hurt Palestinian players and the sport's development and break FIFA's own rules.

As night fell recently over the Spanish city of Toledo, Hanukkah candles lit up empty streets outside the medieval El Transito synagogue.

Folk songs in Ladino — a blend of Spanish and Hebrew — wafted across the garden of the synagogue, which is now the Sephardic Museum.

Sefarad means Spain in Hebrew, and the term refers to Jews of Spanish descent.

Amelia Wolf, an American Jewish college student, was living in the Palestinian city of Ramallah when the holiday of Hanukkah rolled around last year.

She liked the Palestinian family that was hosting her in the West Bank, but she felt a little lonely. She wasn't going to celebrate in Israel, where she had friends and relatives, as she had other Jewish holidays.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening fliers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flier, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

People in Gaza are getting impatient with the slow pace of rebuilding. International donors pledged $5.4 billion to help, but little of the money has made it to Gaza yet.

A Gaza tech startup accelerator has gone a different route — international crowdfunding.

Three months after the Gaza Strip war between Hamas and Israel, reconstruction of destroyed homes and businesses has hardly started. Part of the problem is the lack of clear Palestinian government authority on the ground.

Angry men crowded outside the Beautiful Tower Co. for Trade and Contracting in Gaza City last week. They wanted to pay for cement, but the man at the door would let in only one person at a time.

Everyone pushing for a turn had been authorized through a complicated monitoring system endorsed by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations to buy materials to fix war-damaged homes. The system is meant to stop militants from getting cement to use for tunnels and even requires Palestinians to get prior approval from home inspectors to buy a single sack of cement.

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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.

Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. Jews call it the Temple Mount. On the contested hilltop that has been the focus of so much of the unrest in Jerusalem, Muslims who see themselves as "defenders" of the sanctuary raise their voices in a call to God whenever Jewish visitors enter.