An Israeli software company that employs 500 staff in Dublin encouraged its employees to create content supporting “Israel’s narrative” in the country’s conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza, leaked internal messages show.
One message in an internal company discussion, set up by a manager in the days after the Hamas attack in southern Israel, encouraged employees to “show Westernity” in social media posts backing Israel, as “unlike the Gazans, we look and live like Europeans or Americans”, it said.
The message was one of several circulated to Wix employees on Slack, a messaging app used by the company to communicate internally, seen by The Irish Times.
Wix, a tech company that provides a platform for people to build websites, has had an office in Ireland since 2018.
On Monday the company dismissed one of its Irish employees, Courtney Carey (26) from Clondalkin, southwest Dublin, after she publicly criticised Israel.
In recent posts on LinkedIn, Ms Carey described Israel as a “terrorist state” and criticised the “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza. The employee later clarified that she condemned “all forms of terrorism” and did not support Hamas, whose attacks killing civilians in southern Israel on October 7th sparked the current conflict.
Wix terminated Ms Carey’s employment following a backlash to the comments from Israeli employees and customers.
Leaked messages show an internal Slack channel called “supporting Israel narrative” was set up in response to Hamas’s October 7th attacks in southern Israel, which killed 1,400 people and sparked the current conflict.
The channel invited employees to “join a company initiative to create videos and creative campaigns”, to “support Israel’s narrative”.
The aim was to “make an impact on global perception” of the Hamas attacks and tackle “the fake narrative” pushed by the Gaza-based militant group.
Posts from staff in the internal discussion included tips from an Israeli advertising agency for how Wix employees could tailor posts “for outreach abroad”.
These included advice to “show Westernity” in posts, as “unlike the Gazans, we look and live like Europeans and Americans”. It was “very important to emphasise this in texts and images so that they feel close to us”, the message said.
The post advised employees to avoid focusing on numbers when discussing attacks on Israelis, as “the number of deaths and bombings in Gaza will be significantly higher”.
Employees were told that Israel’s bombing of Gaza was resulting in “difficult pictures” of injured Gazans circulating.
“This is the time to share difficult personal stories from the terrible [Hamas] massacre. It creates a feeling that it is happening at the same time,” the internal post said.
A message from another Wix employee sought help on a project building “a dynamic database on a website of all the companies that have come out against Israel”.
Wix did not respond to requests for comment on the internal Slack messages.
Correspondence shows staff in the Dublin office previously raised concerns about internal commentary from Wix on the Israel-Hamas conflict two years ago.
In a May 11th, 2021 email, Wix president Nir Zohar emailed all staff about an escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas, assuring employees it would not disrupt business and staff in Israel were safe.
The following day, Ronen Ben-David, Wix vice-president for global customer care, emailed Dublin employees stating some had “shared concerns” about the message from Mr Zohar.
The senior executive said the intention was to show “empathy and support” to staff in Israel and assure employees colleagues were safe.
The correspondence “was about our employees, not the political situation or anyone’s personal opinion”, he wrote.
“We believe that every Wix person’s voice matters and deserves to be heard. We embrace our culture of directness and openness. But that said, we don’t want Wix to turn into an arena where political conflict is the norm.
“We want everyone to feel safe and ask that they stay respectful to each other’s beliefs, and personal & political views,” Mr Ben-David wrote.
In a LinkedIn post on Monday, Mr Zohar, who is also chief operations officer, said Wix had “decided to part ways” with Ms Carey over her messages criticising Israel.
Staff in Israel had “lost friends and family members” in the Hamas attacks, he said.
“In the midst of this, for all the Israelis to be called terrorists by someone they perceive as a team-mate and a colleague is unfathomable, unexplainable and unacceptable,” he wrote.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Carey said Wix’s internal Slack messages were “one of the driving forces” behind her belief that she could publicly comment on the Israel-set conflict.
The company’s social media policy states employees should “use judgment” when posting online, and use of social media that “negatively impacts” the company can be a disciplinary matter.
However, Ms Carey said she felt she had been dismissed as her opinions did not align with “the political views” of the company. The Dublin woman said she was considering taking an unfair dismissal case to the Workplace Relations Commission.
Commenting in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said under Irish employment law it was “not okay to dismiss somebody because of their political views”.
The Fine Gael leader said he was not aware of the details of Ms Carey’s case, but said it “may well constitute wrongful dismissal”.