July 14, 2014

In Blog

FINKELSTEIN COMMENTS: I recently posted an interview with an MIT professor, Dr. Postol, denigrating the wild claims being made for Iron Dome (  A correspondent sent me this exchange with Postol, which I have received permission to post.



Sent: Friday, July 11, 2014 6:16 PM

Subject: NPR interview

 Dr. Postol,

 I heard your interview on NPR the other day on the Iron Dome system.

 You said that Hamas is “intentionally forc[ing] the Israelis to kill a lot of noncombatants”. Do you have any evidence that this is the case? You were talking about this in the context of Gaza being a densely populated place. Do you think Hamas is responsible for the incredible population density of the Gaza Strip, and that their purpose in making it one of the most densely populated places in the world was to “make[] the Israelis look worse”?

 As far as I am aware, such claims are only made by Israeli and American government spokespeople, the same ones who constantly claim against all evidence that Iron Dome is shooting down huge numbers of rockets. I don’t know why someone would take such people’s claims seriously under any circumstances. On its face the claim seems rather unlikely to be true: the most popular political party in Palestine is actively trying to get Palestinian women and children killed to make Israel look bad? Palestinians must be very stupid people indeed to support such a group.

 I would appreciate an answer. You are a highly regarded scientist at a highly regarded institution, so people take your statements seriously. Thank you, I hope you are well.



Thought you might find this exchange interesting, or maybe uplifting. Not for posting obviously. 


Sent from my iPhone

FerozeSidhwa, M.D., M.P.H.

Surgery Resident, Boston University Medical Center


Cell: 443.802.7789




On Jul 12, 2014, at 1:49 PM, <> wrote:


Dear Dr. Sidwha:

I sincerely regret that at the end of my four minute interview it appeared to you that I was asserting that Hamas was responsible for the atrocities now going on in Gaza.  For our common reference, I have transcribed the very end of that four minute interview:

Interviewer:             On the other hand, tens of meters (of accuracy) in a dense place like Gaza city –

Postol (Interrupting): That could kill a lot of innocent people
in part this is an important game on the part of the adversary, if you can intentionally force Israelis to kill a lot of noncombatants that’s good for your campaign, it makes the Israelis look worse

The interviewer’s question was related to an earlier discussion we were having about the accuracy of the artillery rockets being fired into Israel relative to the accuracy of bombs being dropped by Israeli pilots in Gaza.

I pointed out that these bombs “could kill a lot of it people.”  My next statement had to do with the tactics that are typically used by almost all guerrilla organizations when they are fighting a vastly more capable adversary.  For example, it was typical, in the war over Kosovo in the Balkans, that Serbian guerrillas would set mortars up in town squares so that counter battery fire would certainly result in mass casualties of innocents.

This is one of those terrible facts of unrestrained warfare.

I regard the Israeli bombing of Gaza as completely inexcusable.  The Israelis present themselves as a modern state that is integrated into the “Western alliance.”  The values espoused by these countries (which I fully acknowledge are not always followed) clearly and unambiguously treat has more crimes attacks that are executed without regard to the killing of innocent civilians.  I agree with those values.

The moral questions raised by how the Israeli government has responded to Palestinian artillery rocket attacks are serious, and, have not been adequately discussed in the Western press. 

The Palestinian artillery rocket attacks have had a serious paralyzing effect on Israeli society – but they have essentially resulted in no losses of life.  This is because the real defense that the Israelis have is being able to take shelter before artillery rockets impact.  This “passive” defense is also aided by the fact that these artillery rockets have quite small warheads, so modest levels of sheltering can be quite effective.

There can be no excuse for dropping 1000 and 2000 pound bombs on a densely populated area under the guise that the response is proportional.  The Israeli approach to this intractable confrontation should be totally unacceptable to all states that hold a high value on human life.  In fact, the Israeli response to the Gaza conflict raises the same moral questions as that of Assad’s bombing attacks against civilians in rebel controlled areas in Syria.

I sincerely regret that you misunderstood my statement, and I will be very careful in the future to do what I can to be clearer about my views.  I do not wish to make it look like I am making an excuse, but I hope you will also understand that this was a quite short interview that was additionally edited by NPR, who I also believe did the best job they could under the circumstances.

Best regards, Ted Postol






Date: July 12, 2014 at 5:00:33 PM PDT

To: “<>” <>

Subject:Re: Your Concerns About My NPR interview


Dr. Postol,


Your empathetic response is exactly what I thought I wouldn’t get but was hoping I would. You obviously have a deep understanding and a humanitarian perspective, a rare combination. Or maybe the media just doesn’t typically give a platform to scholars who are also decent human beings. 


Thank you so much for your response. It’s very unusual to meet someone who takes their words so seriously, so please let me thank you sincerely for that.


I hope you are well and will continue your work. Best of luck. 


Sent from my iPhone

FerozeSidhwa, M.D., M.P.H.

Surgery Resident, Boston University Medical Center


Cell: 443.802.7789