Matthew Bell


Matthew Bell is an editor at The World.

I’m an editor based in the Boston newsroom — working from home a lot lately, of course. I work closely with our correspondents who cover the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America.By way of background, I studied comparative religion and Chinese history at the University of Vermont. That led me to Mandarin language classes and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and then to KQED Radio in San Francisco. From there, I started freelancing for The World and joined the team full-time here in Boston in late 2001.In my previous life as a reporter, I was blessed with the opportunity to cover a huge range of stories for The World. But some of the most memorable ones involved taking a trip on a Louisiana shrimping boat in the Gulf of Mexico, covering events in Egypt during the so-called Arab Spring, and meeting North Korean refugees in Seoul, South Korea.I’m super interested in religion and I tend to think most big news stories have an important, if overlooked, religion angle. I’ve reported a lot on US foreign policy, human rights in China, North Korea’s nuclear activities and life in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Beyond journalism, I’m helping to raise kids and engaged in the lifelong pursuit of learning to play the electric guitar.

‘We need to fix the country’: Israelis ponder a post-war future 

Conflict & Justice

US President Joe Biden says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a “mistake” with his approach to Gaza. More than 70% of Israeli respondents of a recent survey said Netanyahu should either resign now, or as soon as the war in Gaza ends. The World’s Matthew Bell is in Jerusalem and he’s been speaking with Israelis about how they’re thinking of the post-war future.

For Palestinians, a grim reality in Gaza obscures the future

Israel-Hamas war
Rows of people kneeling in prayer

Tens of thousands attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Israel-Hamas war
man in front of bookcase

Sharing the national burden in Israel

Israel-Hamas war
Israelis demonstrate outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to call for new elections, Jerusalem, April 1, 2024.

Israelis set up a tent city in Jerusalem to protest Netanyahu and call for new elections

Israel-Hamas war
buildings demolished

Israel says ‘no’ to a 2-state solution

Israel-Hamas war

The Biden administration wants Israel and the Palestinians to get serious about restarting a long-stalled plan for a two-state solution. The European Union is saying the same, and so are Arab leaders, along with others across the international community. But Israel’s current government is digging in its heels. 

Yair Yifrach works with a client at his gun shop, just outside of Jerusalem.

Israeli civilians are buying lots of guns. Not everyone is feeling safer. 

Israel-Hamas war

After the shocking attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, many people have decided to arm themselves. Gun sales are on the rise. But lots more guns in more people’s hands can be dangerous. 

For more than 30 years, Palestinian and Bedouin shepherds say they lived peacefully in part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

West Bank rocked by increased violence, displacement amid Israel-Hamas war

Israel-Hamas war

For more than 30 years, Palestinian and Bedouin shepherds say they lived peacefully in part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A few days after the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, they say they faced extreme harassment and threats from armed Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers, and were forced to relocate. Palestinian advocates say extremist Jewish settlers are attempting to “cleanse” parts of the West Bank of Palestinians. Israeli settlers tend to see things differently.

Israeli soldiers carry a stretcher toward a helicopter near the border with Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.

Israel and Hamas reach temporary ceasefire agreement

Israel-Hamas war

After weeks of negotiations, Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement on a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, starting on Thursday. What will follow is the release of dozens of people taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7. Israel will also set free a large number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The World’s Matthew Bell tells us more.

An empty shabbat table is set in front of the Tel Aviv Museum to symbolize over 200 missing Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023.

How the hostage crisis is changing Israel

Israel-Hamas war

Negotiators have reportedly been getting close to reaching a deal to free Israeli hostages taken by Hamas last month. In exchange, Israel would release Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. But so far, any agreement between Israel and Hamas has proven to be difficult to reach.