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Wix Software Company: Enhancing Israeli Narrative and Controlling Thousands of Arabic Websites

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
15th November 2023
Wix Software Company: Enhancing Israeli Narrative and Controlling Thousands of Arabic Websites
The Israeli company Wix hosts thousands of Arabic websites (Getty)

The Irish Times revealed, at the end of last month, a series of internal messages shared by the management of the company in Dublin with members of the Wix software team through the Slack collaboration app. These messages urged employees to display their "Western spirit" in social media posts supporting Israel, stating that "unlike Gaza residents, we look and live like Europeans or Americans."

These messages were published in an internal Slack channel called "Supporting Israeli Narrative," created in response to the Al-Aqsa Flood, launched on October 7, targeting military posts and settlements near the Gaza Strip.

شركة ويكس تحث على دعم إسرائيل

The channel urged employees to "join the company's initiative to create videos and creative campaigns" to support the Israeli narrative. One of the posts advised employees to avoid focusing on numbers when reporting attacks against Israelis, stating that "the number of deaths and bombings in Gaza will be much higher."

These internal messages caused significant concern among many of the 500 employees working at the company's office in Dublin. The situation escalated to administrative actions taken against those who disagreed. The company fired one of its employees, Courtney Carey (26 years old), after she publicly criticized Israel.

In her LinkedIn posts, Carey described Israel as a "terrorist state" and criticized the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza. Later, she clarified that she condemns "all forms of terrorism" and does not support Hamas. Following the strong reactions from colleagues and clients to her comments, Wix dismissed her.

In a statement issued by the company, Nir Zohar, Wix's Ireland office head and senior operations executive, stated that Carey's remarks were "incomprehensible, inexplicable, and unacceptable."

The company's decision to dismiss Carey has raised concerns in Ireland regarding its potential impact on freedom of expression in the country. It has faced criticism from several human rights organizations, as well as from parliamentarians and politicians. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar commented on the matter, saying, "The lady dismissed by an Israeli company for her comments about the war between Israel and Gaza should seek legal advice if her dismissal was due to her political opinions."

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Wix Company 

"Wix.com Ltd." is an Israeli software company headquartered in Tel Aviv. It is listed as a public company in the United States markets, providing its customers with cloud-based web development services, including content management systems, editing tools, hosting, and other services essential for any website. It also allows non-technical users to easily create HTML5-based websites and mobile-friendly sites using drag-and-drop tools.

In addition to its headquarters in Tel Aviv and other offices in Israel, Wix also has offices in Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands, the United States, Ukraine, and Singapore. It operates on a freemium business model, generating revenue through upgrades to the "Premium" version.

Who Owns Wix Company? 

The company's involvement in promoting the Israeli narrative is not limited to its office in Ireland. It has been a consistent part of its strategy since its inception. Furthermore, it has expanded its operations in the Arab region, becoming one of the most popular software platforms there. Thousands of Arabic websites are currently hosted on its servers.

نبذة عن شركة ويكس - Wix.com

According to the company's website, Wix was founded in 2006 by the ideas of its three founders: Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan. "They quickly discovered while building their own website that creating a website was difficult, frustrating, and extremely costly. This led them to the idea of building a platform that allows anyone to create their own website without the need for programming or design skills."

According to the company's registration document issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Avishai Abrahami, who has been the CEO of Wix since 2010, served in the Israeli Defense Forces' computer intelligence unit from 1990 to 1992, while Giora Kaplan served in the same unit between 1988 and 1991.

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The Relationship Between Wix and “Unit 8200”

Despite being established in the 1950s and undergoing several restructuring and renaming phases, Israel's Computer Intelligence Unit remained in the shadows until the past decade. There was not even any public acknowledgment of its existence. However, in recent years, former Unit 8200 recruits have started sharing some information about their experience and giving glimpses into their military service.

In 2016, Avishai Abrahami, co-founder and CEO of Wix, along with some colleagues, spoke to Forbes magazine about their time in Unit 8200. He was tasked with hacking into the computer systems of a state in conflict with Israel, without disclosing the identity of that state. To secure the significant computing power needed for the mission, they infiltrated systems of two other undisclosed states, using their processing power to decrypt the targeted system's data.

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Tasks like these are what make Unit 8200 a launchpad for some of Israel's biggest tech startups. The sensitive missions and minimal guidance within the unit give former Unit 8200 members an advantage in the market. Additionally, the military attire has significant respect within Israel's high-tech circles.

For Abrahami, his service in the Israeli army and founding the company in Tel Aviv opened opportunities for leaving Israel, yet he chose not to. Despite the vagueness of data regulations in Israel and the undisclosed contributors in the company's structure in Tel Aviv, some of its activities align with Israeli government policies. For instance, the recent removal of websites accused of having ties to Hamas, and the implementation of "economic peace" plans by employing Palestinian developers and programmers unaware of the projects they are working on.

In another interview with Times of Israel, Abrahami mentioned receiving numerous acquisition offers over the years: "Respectable offers from respectable companies. But that might entail moving some of the company's operations abroad... and that's not the kind of exit we're seeking for the company."

Abrahami says he is not a unique model: "From my generation alone, there are over 100 young people from Unit 8200 whom I personally know that founded startups and sold them for a lot of money. There was a special team in the unit. I call it the magic room because they all established companies with an average market value of half a billion dollars." And of course, Abrahami is one of them, as Wix's market value reaches one billion dollars.

Wix Hosts Thousands of Arabic Websites

According to W3Techs statistics, Wix is used by 2.3% of the top 10 million visited websites online. It ranks second globally in hosting and content management systems after the popular service WordPress. It hosts 6102 Arabic websites spread across ten different Arab countries, along with thousands of Turkish sites, according to BuiltWith, a tool for analyzing internet usage and e-commerce data.

Among the prominent Arabic websites hosted on Wix servers are Birzeit University's Palestinian website, Newton Insurance from Jordan, Saudi Arabia's Arqam statistics site, and the Egyptian Knowledge Hub, a coalition of global universities aiming to execute and establish educational events, among other vital sites.

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According to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, "Wix," among other companies, has provided generous in-kind donations to the Israeli military amidst its current offensive against 2.3 million Palestinians in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. Alongside this, and the responsibility associated with receiving millions of dollars from website owners, no one knows the extent of the company's control, and the Israeli government behind it, over the data of those websites, their owners, and their visitors.

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