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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Middle East
11:07 am
Thu February 27, 2014

A Greek Treasure Pulled From The Sea Disappears Again In Gaza

Last year, a Palestinian man fishing off the coast of the Gaza Strip discovered what is thought to be a 2,500-year-old bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo. The rare statue vanished from public view almost immediately after being pulled from the sea. The Hamas government in Gaza says it now has control of the statue.
APA Images/STR APA/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 2:57 pm

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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Middle East
12:58 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Building Pressure May Mean Progress In Israeli Peace Talks

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 10:55 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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Parallels
11:29 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Even Among Their Own, Consensus Eludes Israelis And Palestinians

Nimrod Vider, an Israeli who owns a cafe in the Jordan Valley, part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He says he would be willing to leave the West Bank if the Israeli government thought it was the right thing to do.
Emily Harris NPR

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

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Parallels
11:28 am
Thu January 30, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 4:55 am

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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Parallels
12:09 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

A Palestinian Explains Why He Worked As An Israeli Informant

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

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 6:00 am

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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Parallels
1:06 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Palestinian Herders Pick Up The Pieces After Homes Destroyed

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

Originally published on Sun January 26, 2014 9:14 am

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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Middle East
10:31 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

What Israel's Release Of Palestinian Prisoners Means For Peace

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

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:17 am

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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Parallels
10:29 am
Sat December 28, 2013

What It Costs To Cover Your Noggin In Jerusalem

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

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 3:16 am

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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Middle East
1:34 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

In Little Town Of Bethlehem, U.S. Aid On Display At Christmas Market

A Palestinian family poses for pictures by the creche in Bethlehem's Manger Square.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun December 29, 2013 3:15 am

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."

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Parallels
7:14 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Israeli Startup Offers Kids Social Media Training Wheels

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

Originally published on Sun December 22, 2013 4:14 am

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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Middle East
3:24 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Palestinian Refugees On Losing Side Of UN Budget Crunch

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

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 3:17 am

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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Parallels
10:21 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer

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

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 3:51 am

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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Parallels
2:42 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Critical Of Nuclear Deal, Israel Wonders What May Come Next

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

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 3:50 am

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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Parallels
2:30 am
Sat November 16, 2013

African Migrants Find An Uneasy Asylum In Israel

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

Originally published on Sun November 17, 2013 3:22 am

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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Parallels
10:10 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Women Lose Election, Vow To Return

Michal Chernovitsky was one of several ultra-Orthodox women who ran for a seat on the all-male local council in El'ad, Israel. None of the women won a spot in Tuesday's vote, but they said they would continue to be active in politics.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 3:31 am

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.

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Parallels
11:50 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Election In Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Town Tests Gender Norms

Candidates for town council Michal Chernovitsky (left) and Adina Ruhamkin campaign in a park in El'ad, or Forever God, a small religious community in Israel. They could be the first women on El'ad's council, and the first ultra-Orthodox women to win public office in Israel.
Emily Harris NPR

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 3:29 am

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.

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Parallels
2:11 am
Sun October 13, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 3:29 am

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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Middle East
10:21 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Israel Eases Restriction On Building Materials To Gaza Strip

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

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 4:05 am

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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Middle East
1:21 am
Mon September 23, 2013

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

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 3:24 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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Middle East
2:14 am
Sun September 8, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sun September 15, 2013 5:38 am

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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World
3:17 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Last Flight Of Ethiopia-To-Israel Jewish Migration Program

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

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 5:09 am

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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The Salt
12:13 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sun September 1, 2013 3:34 am

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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The Salt
10:33 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 7:33 am

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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Parallels
12:22 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Israeli Politician Stirs Up The Religious-Secular Debate

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

Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 3:19 am

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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Parallels
10:07 pm
Sun August 11, 2013

The Complications Of Getting Running Water In The West Bank

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

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 7:10 am

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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Parallels
7:22 am
Mon August 5, 2013

A West Bank Spring At The Center Of Deadly Struggle

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

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 5:00 am

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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Middle East
11:47 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Egyptian Crisis Slows Flow Through Gaza's Smuggling Tunnels

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

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 9:24 am

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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News
2:54 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Israel Agrees To Release Palestinian Prisoners

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 3:46 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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The Salt
3:35 am
Fri July 19, 2013

The Ramadan Challenge: Shop And Cook While Hungry And Thirsty

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

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 6:31 am

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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Parallels
10:19 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Israel's Internal Battle Over Ultra-Orthodox Soldiers

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

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 3:14 am

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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