Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Although until this morning I hardly spent any time thinking about the question which act or event was the most important of the year that will end tonight, I was reminded of that question when I read an article about the indictment on charges of "federal racketeering, fraud and conspiracy" of former Illinois governor George Ryan. Almost a year ago I witnessed on television how Mr Ryan - using his last days in power as governor - commuted the death sentences of 167 prisoners who were waiting to be executed or were facing to spend the last few years of their lives on death row, and I remembered how much I admired this step by a Republican - and, as now has been confirmed in court, corrupt - politician. As much of a crook George Ryan might or might not be, and as much as I feel sympathy for the families of the victims of the crimes ascribed to these 167 prisoners, I still believe that Mr Ryan did what only few politicians in the US would dare: to use their power to speak out and act against a combination of biblical and Wild-Western-like, random and arbitrary pseudo-justice, a system that has often proven to be non- or even counter-productive, as well as liable to human mistakes and often racially biased. Having an accused person wait for years for his or her execution can almost never be right, no matter how hideous the crimes committed, and it takes a lot of guts for a politician to acknowledge the faulty character of one or more aspects of the political system which he represents and serves. George Ryan finished his political career and started the year 2003 with a very positive act indeed.
In an interesting though not very convincing opinion article in Ha'Aretz, Yehoshua Amishav points out the fact that many cases of the "new anti-Semitism" would not have been prevented by more Holocaust education, even though Israeli officials often want us to believe otherwise. As important as it is to teach people all over the world about the history, the origins and the aftermath of the crimes committed by Nazi Germany and its willing collaborators against millions of Jews and others in the years 1933-45, it is absurd and naive to believe that more knowledge about those crimes would eliminate or even lessen anti-Semitism or other forms of both rational and irrational collective hatred.
The picture that accompanied an article in Friday's IHT ( Writ, rights and Saudi women ) showed packages of some haircoloring product ( Nice 'n Easy, Beautiful Natural Color ) with the faces of the women pictured on them crudely blurred out with a black marker. It said "At a Riyadh supermarket, women's faces on products are routinely crossed out, in line with stricy interpretation of Islamic morality". It reminded me of some local intolerant Fundis here in Paris, who have the irritating habit of routinely making the metro stations look even more dirty and unattractive by spraypainting their slogans on what they consider woman-unfriendly and other advertising billboards, all in the name of their jihad against globalisation and la Pub ( advertising ).
The fact that the leaders of Iran were willing to accept help after the Bam earthquake from all countries except Israel shows how absurd fanatic ideologies remain, even in times of utter despair and destruction. With a lot of experience in humanitarian expeditions in recent years ( e.g. in Rwanda and Turkey ), with a president and a Minister of Defense who were born in Iran/Persia, Israel could have been a natural ally in alleviating the plight of the poor victims in and around Bam. It is a shame that such an opportunity of possible livesaving and humanitarian cooperation ( and who knows, some sort of reconciliation ) has been missed.
After five wonderful days and nights that I spent with my wife and our two children near my family in Holland, we returned to our apartment near Paris, where a postbox with three copies of the International Herald Tribune awaited me. Only yesterday did I browse through them. While in Holland I hardly saw any television, which is why we were told about the latest suicide attack in Israel with a delay of almost a day, by the photographer who took pictures of the four of us in traditional Volendam costumes.
Youp van 't Hek geeft er in zijn laatste NRC-column van dit jaar verschillende mensen heerlijk en geheel verdiend van langs: Jacques Wallage, de koninklijke familie ( vooral WA's schoonvader ), Jort Kelder en GiechelGeorgina, Gretta en Wim D.

Friday, December 19, 2003

On the back page of today's IHT we find an article about three prominent Israeli novelists who have very outspoken and often well articulated views on what is going on in the Middle East in general and in Israel in particular: Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua.
Here are two pictures of Paris by night: one of the Galleries Lafayette, the other of the Opera. Sorry, I must admit that I made better pictures in my life, but I was in a hurry, i.e. on my way to the Hanukkah-party at our daughter's kindergarten. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2004! Each reader can choose which wish(es) apply/ies to him/her.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Among all the jokes and cartoons about the capture of Saddam Hussein I particularly liked this one, by Joep Bertrams in the Dutch daily Het Parool ( in Dutch, it says "Cut and shaved" ).

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Of all the international reactions to Saddam's arrest, that of French president Chirac was the most touching. According to Ha'Aretz, "Chirac reacted on Sunday to the capture of Saddam Hussein, and said he was delighted at Saddam's arrest, and added that it would clear the way for Iraqis to rule themselves." I hope that he doesn't mean by that that now finally Saddam Hussein can be reinstated instead of those sales Americains, something which was a bit hard while the poor man was still on the run.
Apparently a DNA test confirmed the arrested individual to be the former Iraqi dictator. If this is true a compliment and congratulations are due to the American and British leadership and above all to all those American, British, Italian, Spanish and other men and women who have been fighting the war in Iraq and who are still risking their lives on a daily basis. No matter what one thinks about the war being justified or not ( I have been a hesitant and cautious supporter ), the arrest and possible trial of Saddam Hussayn would be a great achievement and could be an enormous boost for the American-led efforts to pacify the country and to try and introduce some sort of normalcy and democracy there.
Could it be, did they catch Saddam? That would be wonderful news. Or is it just another rumour that will turn out to be not true? Of course millions of people all over the world will be following the news in the coming minutes and hours. I will be one of those millions.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Een mooi vormgegeven en zwaar verslavende online geschiedenisquiz is te vinden via de website van de Volkskrant ( linksonder, de zwarte pijl ). Je speelt steeds tegen twee andere kandidaten, waarbij ieder om de beurt een catgorie kiest. Er zijn drie rondes, waarbij in de eerste twee degene met de minste punten afvalt. Hoe sneller je antwoordt, des te meer punten je krijgt. In de laatste ronde worden punten afgetrokken voor elk fout antwoord. Je kunt zoveel spelen als je wilt. Een absolute aanrader.
In Ha'Aretz Amir Oren analyses a subject that I have hinted at already several times on this blog ( and elsewhere ): the role played by Ariel Sharon's developing legal troubles in the timing of his political and military pseudo-inititatives.

Friday, December 12, 2003

In today's International Herald Tribune a portrait of the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who wrote the poem Babi Yar, which formed the basis of the 13th symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich. For more than a decade Mr Yevtushenko has been living with his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he teaches at the university. ( PS: I am aware that the web pages about the poem and the symphony contain annoying mistakes. E.g., Babi Yar is near Kiev in the Ukraine, not Russia, and Katchaturian was Armenian, not Georgian, even though he was born in Tblisi. Still, in the little time that I had available I could not find any better comprehensive online information about these works of art. )
With three articles on his excellent weblog, The Head Heeb, Jonathan Edelstein saved me a lot of work and precious time, as these articles deal with subjects that I also wanted to write about: the conclusion of an agreement between the EU and Syria within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership ( Roman Empire Reunification Watch, December 10 ); the discussion within the Likud about the hints expressed by Sharon and his close associates regarding a possible unilateral Israeli withdrawal from ( part of ) the territories ( Managing the Conflict, December 10 ); and the hottest issue in France today, the recommendations of the Stasi ( what's in a name ) commission regarding the separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, which could lead to a ban on wearing skullcaps, veils, crosses etc. in schools ( Mutual Concerns, December 10 ). Jonathan also writes about another interesting subject, the proposal to include Israel in the Francophonie ( The Francophonie and Israel, December 11 ) .
Met veel belangstelling heb ik de berichtgeving over de verhuizing van De Nachtwacht naar zijn nieuwe, tijdelijke, onderkomen gevolgd. Ik had wel eens gelezen dat het schilderij tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog elders was ondergebracht, maar wist daar niet het fijne van. Via Bieslog werd dit gat in mijn kennis van de vaderlandse geschiedenis gedicht.
In de rubriek ik@nrc.nl kwam ik de volgende column tegen. Kroost Bea Bloksma Mijn zoon is geen prater. Mijn dochter wel. Zondag eten ze vaak bij mij. Aan tafel vertelde zij dat haar twee eenden Rosa en Roelof - die ze ondanks aandringen van ons niet had laten kortwieken - over de schutting waren gevlogen. Daar zijn ze onder afgrijselijk gekrijs door de twee bloeddorstige honden van de buren opgevreten. Al eerder was haar konijn overreden en haar grijze streepjeskat had ze bij een verhuizing vergeten mee te nemen. Haar oudere broer ging langzaam rechtop zitten, keek zijn zuster doordringend aan, en zei: ,,Het is maar goed dat jij nog geen kinderen hebt!''

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The relief expressed by the public and by commentators when shooting attacks or explosions such as the one heard and seen this morning in Tel Aviv turn out to be most likely criminally motivated, is once more proof of the absurd reality in which Israelis find themselves these days.

Monday, December 08, 2003

The hôtel de ville in Levallois, yesterday morning:
Even though American presidential politics are not really the main focus of my attention, I often do read articles about the subject. This morning on my way to the institute I enjoyed reading an op-ed by Nicholas D. Kristof in the International Herald Tribune about the fight for nomination within the Democratic party. The article ends with a nice anecdote: "If the Democrats are serious about governing, they should remember the words of one of their nominees, Adlai Stevenson. After one of his typically brilliant campaign speeches, someone shouted out to Stevenson from the crowd that he had the votes of all thinking Americans. Stevenson shouted back, saying that wasn't enough: "I need a majority!" "
Kroonprins Willem-Alexander en prinses Maxima hebben een dochter gekregen. Hartelijk gefeliciteerd! Aangezien de trotse vader heeft gezegd dat het de allermooiste baby van de hele wereld is neem ik aan dat het meisje vooral op haar moeder lijkt. Overigens ben ik zelf van mening dat de twee allermooiste babies van de hele wereld in 1999 en 2002 geboren zijn.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Regarding “Anti-Semitism report issued after criticism”, IHT, December 6-7, 2003: The absurdity of post-9/11 political correctness in Europe has reached new heights. Whereas the European Union did not have any qualms about publishing an opinion poll, based on obviously biased and faulty questions, which had a majority of Europeans considering Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, it took weeks of protests and criticism being expressed in a wide range of international fora and media to force European legislators to allow the publication of a report which exposes the role of Arab and Muslim extremists in the recent rise of the so-called ‘new’ anti-Semitism. Although this report also seems to be based on far from perfectly performed research, one might ask why it is that EU leaders hesitated less to have the Jewish state turned into a scapegoat than to hurt the feelings of the continent’s millions of Muslim citizens and residents.
In today’s International Herald Tribune we find two interesting op-ed articles. In a very courageous and honestly introspective article the Lebanese journalist Michael Young writes about the way in which the Arab peoples’ real or imagined preoccupation with the plight of their Palestinian brothers and sisters has become both an excuse for many wrongs in the Arab world and a stumble block for its truly socio-economic and political development: “…the prism of 1948 […] has distorted so many things in the Middle East that it is with little imagination that Arab states and societies tend to address fundamental issues like democracy, sovereignty, overmilitarization, relations with the United States and, even, the optimal pursuit of national interests.” Gideon Samet of Ha’Aretz writes about the Israeli public’s growing perception of the consequences of Ariel Sharon’s “inaction” and “political footdragging”: “ Sharon seems to be running out of arguments against a rigorous attempt to forge a peace agreement, as a growing number of Israelis add up the reasons why this ought to happen without further delay.”
Regarding “Sharon ally predicts concessions”, IHT, December 6-7, 2003 ( letter published in IHT, December 10, 2003 ): The recent remarks by Ehud Olmert are proof of two things. First of all, something which took the establishment on the Israeli Left about 25 years to grasp only more than ten literally bloody years later has become consciously known among prominent members of the country’s Right: a continued occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a demographic nightmare for Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state. Secondly, the way and timing of Mr Olmert’s revelations show us once again how much of an opportunist he is. Until recently a leading hawk within the hardly dovish Likud who did not spare any effort to ridicule the reputations or ideas of his colleagues on the Left, he suddenly seems to see the light, but only after realizing that the electorate has begun to become aware of the lack of content of his government’s and his party’s non-policies.
Een mooie column van Anil Ramdas in het NRC Handelsblad. Om inlogproblemen te vermijden post ik hier de tekst in zijn geheel. De Derde Man Acht uur. Je weet dat er een aanslag is gepleegd in Istanbul, je weet hoeveel doden er zijn gevallen, hoeveel gewonden. Maar het spannende is altijd hoe het journaal het gaat brengen. Het achtuur-journaal van Nederland maakt elk onderwerp huiselijk, knus, bevattelijk voor, zeg maar, al diegenen die niet de kans kregen de lagere school met goed gevolg af te leggen. Daar is niets op tegen, het is juist zeer sociaal-democratisch om 'het volk' te willen verheffen. Daar schuilt weliswaar het gevaar in dat je niet weet of het volk omhoog gaat of jij omlaag, maar een stelregel op de redactie van het journaal schijnt te zijn: kijk jongens, alles buiten de directe eigen buurt van de kijker is veel en veel te ver weg. Maak dus de vertaalslag (ook zo'n woord) naar de gewone man of vrouw op straat. Breng dus het grote nieuws uit de grote wereld terug tot de proporties van, wat zal ik zeggen, een Nederlandse kroket. Het journaal gaat dus niet op zoek naar een doorwrochte analyse van een seculiere staat in een religieus land, dat sinds Ataturk een spagaat maakt tussen oost en west en nu met stevige pijn in de liezen zit. Het journaal wil ook niet achterhalen welke spilfunctie juist Turkije bezit in de regio, door de controle die het land uitoefent over al het zoetwater dat Israël nodig heeft, waardoor juist Turkije als de lieveling moet worden behandeld met veel geld en rozen, en dat nu bekoopt met afschuwelijke aanslagen. Het zal echt makkelijker zijn voor de terroristen om Amerikanen en Britten in Syrië op te blazen. Maar de terroristen begrijpen de geopolitieke verhoudingen beter dan ons journaal aan ons wil verklaren. Ons journaal verklaart niet, ons journaal getuigt. Dat is op zich ook edel, alleen moet je je soms wel in vreemde bochten wringen. Zullen ze daar bij het journaal regels hebben bedacht: brand in Australië, bij minder dan 120 doden, irrelevant; bij acht doden waaronder een Nederlander, meteen de opening? Maar nu werd het ingewikkeld: aanslag in Turkije, op Engelsen, vanwege een oorlog die Nederland heeft gesteund, maar er vielen geen Nederlandse doden. Hoe maak je zulk nieuws van de verre wereld relevant voor onze buurtbewoners? Met die nieuwsgierigheid zit ik dus naar het journaal te kijken. En de mensen bij het journaal weten me altijd te verrassen. Ze gaan naar Turkse theehuizen in Den Haag en omstreken om aan de weinige gasten (vanwege de Ramadan, zegt een begripvolle stem) te vragen wat die ervan vinden. Ik zou willen weten wat de mensen in Istanbul vinden, op een van de beelden van de aanslag stond een man heftig te zwaaien met de armen, maar er was geen geluid bij. Ik zou ook willen weten wat de mensen in Engeland ervan vinden, niet alleen de tegenstanders van het staatsbezoek van Bush, maar ook de gewone Engelsman die zijn lagere school niet heeft afgemaakt. Maar ons journaal komt met de bezoekers van kale, lege en diep mistroostig uitziende theehuizen. In die theehuizen is er nooit eens een vrolijk portret van Ataturk tegen de muur, laat staan een mooie vrouw aan tafel. Moslim-hetero-mannen leiden een ellendig leven: aan het werk zijn ze omringd door mannen, in het theehuis zijn ze omringd door mannen, in de moskee zijn ze omringd door mannen en als ze thuis zijn en van het vrouwelijke schoon zouden kunnen genieten, is het vrouwelijke schoon omringd door lappen stof en anders door twee baby's en een kleuter. Het is geen sexy leven dat de moslimmannen lijden en daar komt nooit iets goeds van. Maar oké, het journaal dus, dat aan Turken vraagt wat ze van de aanslag denken. De eerste twee geïnterviewden zeggen in keurig Nederlands dat het volstrekt absurd, verwerpelijk en onislamitisch is. Mooi, zo wil ik het horen. De jongens die dit zeggen zijn inderdaad jongens, tweede generatie, schat ik. En dan komt de derde man aan het woord. Oudere man, gegroefd gezicht, ooit gastarbeider geweest, waarschijnlijk. Heeft in Nederland zwaar handwerk verricht en zit nu in de WAO. Heeft hij verdiend, want hij is zwaar uitgebuit, genegeerd, vernederd en weet ik wat al niet meer. De man spreekt geen woord Nederlands en ook dat kunnen we hem niet kwalijk nemen. 'He Ali, jij deze schroef aandraaien, ja!' Dat werd tijdens zijn arbeidzame leven naar hem geschreeuwd, en zoveel verstond hij wel, maar hij kon niet in het Nederlands zeggen dat hij geen Ali heette, maar Mustafa. Deze derde man krijgt nu voor het eerst in zijn leven onverwacht een microfoon onder de neus geduwd en van hem wordt geëist dat hij commentaar levert op de wereldpolitiek. Ik zou het niet vreemd vinden als hij plompverloren in het Turks, met Nederlandse ondertitels, zou zeggen: 'Ik weet niet wat ik van de aanslag moet vinden, daar moet u bij deskundigen voor wezen. Maar ik wil wel zeggen aan de mensen in Nederland: mijn naam is niet Ali, mijn naam is Mustafa.' Helaas, dat zei hij niet. In plaats daarvan zei hij, volgens de ondertitels: 'Zolang de Britten en Amerikanen in de islamitische wereld zijn, zullen deze aanslagen plaatsvinden.' Deze derde man leek me niet iemand die The New York Review leest, of naar Engeland of Amerika is geweest. Of zelfs ooit een Engelsman of een Amerikaan ontmoet heeft. Deze eerste generatie allochtoon die geen Nederlands spreekt zit gevangen in een wereld die feitelijk niet bestaat. Ga maar na: het land dat hij verliet is veranderd, het land waar hij aankwam is hem vreemd. De man dobbert in een sloep op zee zonder land te zien aan de horizon. Een zielig figuur dat je alles moet geven, behalve vrijheid van meningsuiting. Zoals je aan kinderen geen AK-47 geeft. Hij ratelt dus keurig de mening op van de fanatieke moslims die hij in de moskee ontmoet en dan is het tijd bij het journaal voor het volgende onderwerp.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Op de website van joods.nl ( ik kon het zo gauw niet vinden op de site van Trouw, waarin het oorspronkelijk stond ) staat een interview van Inez Polak met de Israelische schrijver David Grossmann. Niet alleen schrijft hij erg mooie verhalen, romans, reportages en kinderboeken, hij heeft ook veel zinnigs te zeggen op politiek gebied.
That I do not use my Nikon Coolpix 5400 only for professional purposes ( with its photocopy function ) can be seen in the two pictures shown here, taken on Wednesday afternoon in Levallois-Perret, where we have been living for three months now. This is the city's hôtel de ville, built in the 1890s.
The Geneva accord, as faulty as it may be, has received quite a lot of media attention already. On Wednesday the International Herald Tribune had a good editorial on the subject, and today I read an interesting article about Alexis Keller, a maybe somewhat naive but very enthusiastic Swiss academic and son of a retired banker, who used some of his family's wealth and personal connections to get several Israelis and Palestinians together in order to 'finalize Taba', an initiative that resulted in the Geneva accord. Of course, this accord will also not bring us real redemption, but still, it forces all those concerned to somehow make their positions clear, and it might help to crystallize virtual and academic discussions into something more tangible. Whatever the different motives of each of the signatories and supporters are, this already is a welcome contribution to any possible peace process.
Visitors to my weblog asked me why I have written so few in-depth articles and/or letters to the editor during the last months. This is why basically: Me and my family are here for a very limited period of time. Therefore I have to maximize my use of time available for my work. During the week I work in different libraries and archives, where with my digital camera I make photocopies of documents, proceedings of Jewish organizations, newspaper articles etc. that are or at least seem to be relevant for my research. In an average week I make between 600 and 1000 copies. In the weekends I work at the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent, entering all the relevant data about the copies made during the week into my laptop, and organizing everything into something that i can work with when we return to Israel early next year. When I have about 2000 photocopies I put them on a CD-ROM. Only at the institute do I have access to the internet, so that when I am there I have to work, check my e-mails and reply when necessary, and if possible write something for my blog. This leaves very little time for me to write something that is not only serious, but also coherent and original. So be patient, when i return to Israel I will start writing longer opinion articles again. Till then I will keep my postings short, and they will mainly relate to stuff that I read on the various websites that I visit in order not to be totally out of touch with what is going on in the world.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Once more I was strengthened in my impression that the Geneva Accord might have some very good points, or at least could have some positive effects: the almost hysterical reactions by Israeli officials and the aggressive response by people on the Israeli Right ( rabbis who called the work of Beilin & co. treason, a reaction that reminds us of some Palestinian extremist responses ) prove that those who have failed to deliver ( and those who have a clear interest in continuing 'the situation' as it is or even having it escalate ) feel their positions being threatened, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I also read that about a third of the Israeli population supports the agreement ( this was only a quarter a few weeks ago ), whereas a third ( this was half ) of them opposes it. At least all the publicity might force the Israeli government to think about changing its wait-and-see approach. Still, of course, it is not only up to us in Israel. Arafat and the Palestinians also have to think about more constructive ( and less destructive ) ways of building their people's future. If the Geneva accord - with all the international support and publicity - causes our leaders to get around the table again and finally start seriously talking ( based on the accord or on any other basics acceptable to both sides ), its signatories deserve respect and recognition. If not, at least they can say that they tried, which is more than you can say about all too many so-called representatives of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Today I found in my mailbox at the institute ( within France Amazon.fr delivers for free, so I have started to order books that I need for my research before I go back to Israel, saving many, many Euros ) two books by Mark Mazower, a professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London: Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-1944 ( New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2001 ) and Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century ( New York: Vintage Books, 2000 ). A little less than a month ago I heard professor Mazower give a lecture here in Paris on the destruction of the Jewish community in Saloniki during WWII, and I was very impressed by the depth and scope of his research. By looking at the holocaust in a broader - Greek-national, European, 19-20th century - and not an exclusively or mainly Nazi-German-perpetrator perspective, Mazower succeeds ( as have other historians who applied this constructive version of 'revisionist' history ) in making us 'understand' some of the why's and hows of the holocaust, as well as in realizing even more the fact that the Jews were almost totally left on their own, and that what appeared to be quite good relations with non-Jews were just a façade, which was torn apart in a crisis such as the German occupation. After I finish Robert Gildea's Marianne in Chains: In Search of the German Occupation of France, 1940-1945 ( London: Pan Books, 2002 ) ( interesting, but like in his France since 1945 ( 2nd ed., Oxford: OUP, 2002 ) I found many mistakes and not very well chosen or formulted phrases ) I will probably read Dark Continent. On the back cover it says: "Mark Mazower strips away myths that have comforted us since World War II, revealing Europe as an entity constantly engaged in bloddy self-invention. With candor and insight, he shows us how fascism, communism, and democracy have each enjoyed popularity as blueprints for a European utopia - and how battling ideologies directed the events of a century." Sounds like worth reading to me.
Regarding "New hints of peace surface in Mideast", IHT, December 1, 2003: Paraphrasing the words by John Forbes Kerry, who protested against the Vietnam war in the early 1970s, one could ask " How do you ask a man or woman to be the last one to die for stubbornness and blind ideologies?". As Amos Oz, one of the Israelis who is responsible for the Geneva accord which should be signed today, once said ( and I paraphrase again ), we all know what the basics of any viable future agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will be, the question is just how many more people will have to die or otherwise be hurt before such an agreement is reached and the conflict ended. The fact that the Geneva accord is condemned and its signatories are attacked or verbally abused on both sides by fanatics and other people who until now have shown that their interests do not lie in seriously pursuing any peaceful end to the conflict speaks in its favor, I believe. The accord exposed once more leaders of all the anti-peace factions as emperors without any clothes on, who have nothing positive to offer to those who depend on their non-leadership.