South by Southwest (SXSW) brought public relations experts and Muslim American advocates together last week to discuss how John and Jane Q. Public need to chill out, forget that religious fanatics are itching to incinerate them in the name of Allah, and learn to love Islam. But what really intrigued me were the backgrounds, loyalties, and unspoken agendas represented during the panel discussion, called “Rebranding Islam.”
For example, one of the marketing gurus was Alona Elkayam, who is Jewish, the grand-daughter of a Holocaust survivor, and writes a weekly report on “best and worst dressed brands” for the Huffington Post. Which kind of made me wonder: if Islam’s image problems are rooted in sub-par “branding,” why she never featured them as “worst-dressed” brand for any given decade, let alone week. There couldn’t have been any credible challenger for that distinction in the world of advertising, especially last week with toe-curling reports of jubilant Islamists passing out candy to celebrate the terrorist slashing of an Israeli family.
But then, I can’t figure out how the grand-daughter of a Holocaust survivor would sit on the same panel as Daisy Khan of Ground Zero Mosque fame, considering her ties to anti-Israel groups, including one that supported the vicious “Freedom Flotilla” ambush last year and their genocidal mission to help Iran help Hamas terrorize Israel – a nation, after all, that was founded by traumatized holocaust survivors and is now populated and defended by their descendants.
Even if that doesn’t inspire a little native loyalty for her Israeli peers, one would think that as a PR expert, Elkayam would at least point out that Islam’s mission to destroy Israel’s defensive blockades along the Iran-Hamas arms supply route, may contribute to their “branding” problems in the eyes of the fair-minded – even if she didn’t have the guts to point out that her fellow panelist, Khan, is part of the problem.
And that’s not all. Wouldn’t a savvy image consultant want to make a few other helpful suggestions to spruce up Islam’s image? Maybe point out that the notion of planting a 13-story fanatic magnet at the location where hundreds spent their last terrifying minutes on earth listening to throat-cutting madmen chant “allahu-akbar,” could be viewed as a little insensitive and off-putting?
Unfortunately, Khan – who up until recently was a driving force behind the Ground Zero Mosque – hasn’t demonstrated much interest in sensitive dialogue and image rehabilitation in some of her statements about those who oppose the project:
A leader of a planned Muslim community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero compared opposition to the project to the persecution of Jews, in comments that could add to the controversy over the center’s proposed site. […]
“We are deeply concerned, because this is like a metastasized antisemitism,” said Daisy Khan, who is spearheading the project with her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “It’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims.”
Considering Khan’s affiliations with honest-to-goodness Nazi wannabes in Gaza, it’s breathtaking that she has the gall to call anyone an anti-Semite, “metastasized” or otherwise. What’s even more amazing is that SXSW deemed someone that abrasive and insight-challenged qualified to sit on one of their panels and offer solutions to anyone’s image problems.