ISRAEL AT WARIsraeli high-tech leaders boycott Web Summit over organizer's critique of Israel's actions
ISRAEL AT WAR
Israeli high-tech leaders boycott Web Summit over organizer's critique of Israel's actions
Prominent Israeli entrepreneurs reacted strongly to Paddy Cosgrave's statements regarding Israel's conduct during the recent conflict with Hamas
A series of high-tech Israeli entrepreneurs have lashed out at Paddy Cosgrave, the organizer of Web Summit, one of the world’s most respected technology conferences, due to his remarks about Israel violating international law and committing war crimes.
Cosgrave's criticism of Israel, stating that “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are”, prompted strong reactions from several individuals in the industry, including Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, who responded by saying, "A week into the war, when mothers are seeing their babies burned alive by terrorists, when nearly 200 people are still kept hostage, away from their families, when Hamas which is worse than ISIS and Nazis combined because even Hitler didn't burn babies ... is just not a good time Paddy. I'll repeat, not a good time to be "right", and you're just wrong.”
Singolda also made it clear that he has no intention of attending the conference again, despite having attended it many times in the past.
Ambassador of Israel to Portugal Dor Shapira encouraged companies to cancel their participation in the event that begins in Lisbon on November 13. "Today, I wrote to the Mayor of Lisbon informing him that Israel will not participate in the #WebSummit conference due to the outrageous statements made by the conference CEO Paddy Cosgrave.
"Even during these difficult times, he is unable to set aside his extreme political views and denounce the Hamas terrorist activities against innocent people.
"Dozens of companies have already canceled their participation in this conference, and we encourage more to do so.
"We should have zero tolerance to terrorist and terror acts!"
Other entrepreneurs and industry executives, like Ran Harnevo, expressed similar sentiments. "I’ve been to Web Summit a bunch of times, and to be honest I regret each one of them. Reading this despicable tweet, a few days after the worst massacre any Western country has ever experienced, makes me sick to my stomach. I encourage every decent Internet entrepreneur, every startup, every corporate in the Tech sector, to avoid a conference of an anti-semitic founder, who hasn’t apologized even after the scene gets clearer and more details about a cold blooded planned massacre are being revealed."
Zeev Farbman, CEO and co-founder of Lightricks, and Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data (who was drafted into the reserves), both canceled their participation in the conference due to the organizer's words.
The annual conference, scheduled to begin in mid-November in Portugal this year, traditionally hosts top high-tech executives from around the world, including Israel. Several senior Israelis were listed as speakers at the upcoming conference, such as Assaf Rappaport from Wiz and Ori Goshen from AI21 Labs. In response to Cosgrave's remarks, Rappaport announced his decision not to participate in the conference, as did venture capital investor Gili Ra'anan.
KPMG Israel announced that they are withdrawing their participation sponsorship of the conference in Lisbon following Cosgrave's one-sided remarks.
"In a month I was supposed to give a keynote at Web Summit Lisbon. I will not," wrote Goshen. "It’s bad enough that summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave didn’t see fit to express horror at the sickening atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7th. Beheading babies in front of their captive parents and then shooting the parents. Raping women and parading them through Gaza streets. Burning alive entire families. Executing elderly women. Filming all these horrors and gleefully posting them to social media, including on victims' phones for their loved ones to see.
"But as immoral as that is, Paddy Cosgrave chose to not only ignore these but instead post something against the policies of the Israeli government. Leaving alone his very partial understanding of history and geopolitics, this response was abhorrent.
"We at A21 cannot be part of such indecency and moral bankruptcy. We will not attend WebSummit, and I will not give the keynote."
Chen Shmilo, CEO of the 8200 Alumni Association, called for a boycott of the conference by Israeli entrepreneurs and companies. “It is time to join forces to end this ridiculous hypocrisy of Paddy Cosgrave who called out governments which condemned Hamas,” wrote Shmilo. “Hamas is ISIS. If you stand by murderers you're out. The 8200 Alumni Association urges all companies and individuals who intended to attend the Web Summit next month to immediately cancel any participation or sponsorship.”
Nadav Shoval, co-founder and CEO of OpenWeb, added: "I won't be attending Web Summit in November, and OpenWeb overall will be pulling its participation. As a company founded in Israel, OpenWeb stands STRONGLY with Israel. At a time when so many of our co-workers and their families remain in harm's way, we will be completely clear on our position."
David Marcus, the former chief executive of PayPal and former head of Meta’s Messenger app, wrote: "You chose to support terrorists. As such I’ll never attend/sponsor/speak at any of your events again."