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Insights
January 13, 2022

Statement from Big Duck in response to JTA article

A few days ago, the JTA posted an article based on what they understood happened in a 21-minute conversation we had with one potential client, The Shalom Hartman Institute. Since the article’s publication, Big Duck has been accused of antisemitism and our policies have been publicly mischaracterized. We’ve received hateful and threatening public and private messages, and organizations we’ve worked with have had their own values unfairly called into question.

As long-time members of the Big Duck team, both of us are proud to have worked deeply with many Jewish nonprofits, including many with a presence in Israel. For Farra particularly as a queer Jewish woman, as well as a strategist, trainer, donor, and personal friend to so many Jewish organizations, these allegations of antisemitism are deeply upsetting.

We did not issue a response right away, because we wanted to take time to reflect and discuss with our team and clients. While we felt the article mischaracterized our position, we also acknowledge that the comments we provided, written in haste, didn’t accurately represent our policies and practices and caused concern. Additionally, we are a newly-formed worker-owned cooperative company that is democratically governed and guided by the various viewpoints and experiences of our team—and while we work closely with clients on their communications, being in the middle of a contentious public dialogue is a first for us as a company.

We want to clarify our company policies with the following statement.

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We at Big Duck are proud of the work we do day in and day out with our clients to help them best communicate their missions. We work with a variety of organizations based on our shared values around diversity, equity, antiracism, and a commitment to a better world, as well as considering whether the collaboration is a fit based on the project scope, timeline, and budget.

We have worked with Jewish organizations for over two decades and we denounce antisemitism in the strongest terms. Recent articles and online attacks misrepresent our firm’s values and policies.

Big Duck as a company does not endorse BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). We do not apply a litmus test with respect to Zionism and/or work in Israel. We are committed to our partnerships with Jewish organizations, including those that work in Israel.

Big Duck’s decision to decline to work with the Hartman Institute was due to multiple reasons, one of which was our perception at the time that they would not be open to working with a company whose employees and clients hold a range of views on the Israeli government’s policies and practices. We have since learned that our perception of the Hartman Institute’s position was mistaken, and we regret that the way we raised the topic caused harm. We are disappointed that our subsequent effort to engage with the Hartman Institute failed to prevent this public escalation, and we are deeply disheartened by and sorry for the challenges our team, our clients, and the broader Jewish community are experiencing as a result of this misunderstanding and the way it was handled.

We are committed to learning from this experience as we move forward, and we remain open to productive dialogue and conversation.