Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave yesterday published an apology on the official site of the conference. He wrote, "I unreservedly condemn Hamas’ evil, disgusting and monstrous October 7 attack. I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages. As a parent, I sympathize deeply with the families of the victims of this appalling act, and mourn for all the innocent lives lost in this and other wars. I unequivocally support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. I unequivocally support a two-state solution."
He added, "I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions - ie, not commit war crimes. This belief applies equally to any state in any war. No country should breach these laws, even if atrocities were committed against it.
"I have always been anti-war and pro-international law. It is precisely at our darkest moments that we must try to uphold the principles that make us civilized."
"I understand that what I said, the timing of what I said, and the way it has been presented has caused profound hurt to many. To anyone who was hurt by my words, I apologize deeply. What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that. My aim is and always has been to strive for peace. Ultimately, I hope with all my heart that this can be achieved."
On Friday, Cosgrave posted on X, "I’m shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders & governments, with the exception in particular of Ireland’s government, who for once are doing the right thing. War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are."
Following the critical response to his post on X and letter of apology, Cosgrave says he has removed his post.
Condemns and attacks Israel
However, yesterday, even before his apology Cosgrave condemned Israel's actions, reiterating, "War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies." He wrote that his mailbox was flooded with support from Israel and around the world. Regarding the conference, Cosgrave wrote that now, after the calls to boycott it, "Some of the most respected voices in the field of international law, human rights, and peace," will be talking at the conference. He added that in recent hours, despite the cancellation of nine investors, 35 other investors had registered and that on Monday more participants registered than on any other Monday in 2023."
Cosgrave also wrote, "The attempt to cancel a global conference that has always supported peace is not only naïve but also opposes productiveness," and "It's impossible to cancel it due to a desire for peace and protecting human rights. I stand in solidarity with innocent citizens from both sides."
Cyberstarts founding partner Gili Ra'anan told "Globes," "There is no politics here, nothing was said about Israeli-Palestinian relations. There is a very sharp statement here regarding Hamas, that I think their barbaric actions, every person from any ethnic group from any religion from any region of the world should be shocked and condemn it regardless of their opinion about the State of Israel and the Palestinians and the conflict in the Middle East. "
He added, "I think it is necessary to understand that this whole event unfolded spontaneously. It really started out of anger and astonishment at the fact that a day after the terrible massacre in the south, someone in such a position does not condemn the terrible crimes, which is against anything that a person of any kind in the world can accept. He chooses to condemn the alleged war crimes that Israel commits. It turned into something much bigger than I thought it would be.
On Cosgrave's subsequent posts, Ra'anan says, "I think that to a certain extent he uses the stage to promote ideas that he believes in. And that's what we see."
Asked whether the business community, including in high-tech, will behave differently following the current war, Ra'anan says, "If there are companies whose leaders express one way or another support for an organization like Hamas, just as they would express support for al-Qaeda, or express support for Nazi or neo-Nazi organizations, it will be difficult to do business with them."
Ra'anan also referred to Cosgrave's statement that while investors have canceled their participation, many more new investors have signed up. He said, "I think the fact that the prominent funds that were due to participate, such as Sequoia, Excel, Index, Bessemer and others, will not all be there is very significant . He can write until tomorrow that even though these funds canceled, he has thirty other investors who will join." Ra'anan also adds that although he remembers cases in the past when political events impinged on the tech arena, he does not remember a situation on this scale.
"He probably does not understand the difference between terror and the war against terror
One veteran investor said that Cosgrave probably does not understand the difference between terror and the war against terror, or otherwise he is an anti-Semite. "Both alternatives are terrible."
Dan Amiga, founder of cybersecurity company Island, said that he was meant to be a main speaker at Web Summit. He explained, "The lack of understanding of the Web Summit CEO about the terrorist acts of Hamas against innocent civilians, does not allow any person who defines himself as a humanist to take part in the conference. Just as the world was shocked by the criminal actions of ISIS against civilians around the world, so the CEO of the conference should have been shocked by the actions of Hamas and understand Israel's need to protect its residents. I welcome the broad response of entrepreneurs and investors to cancel their participation in the conference."
Israeli venture capital fund StageOne Ventures said, "Following Paddy Cosgrave's statements last week, we have made a decision to cancel our participation in the conference. At the same time, we advised our portfolio companies to take the same approach. They of course sympathized with the move and immediately canceled their participation. The fund is not ready to lend a hand and support a conference whose leaders have not condemn the shocking massacre committed by Hamas against innocent Israeli citizens. No country in the world would put up with the planned and heinous murder of thousands of innocent citizens, including hundreds of abducted and missing people, and it is imperative to condemn this, since silence is like consent to the massacres. Although the fighting is carried out in the field, at the same time there is a complex psychological fight against terrorism also on social networks, universities, conferences and more. Together with many in the high-tech community, we will always act against those who use their influence in the media to convey messages against Israel that encourage terrorism."
Others boycotting the conference include Bessemer Ventures Israel-based partner Adam Fisher, Taboola founder and CEO Adam Singolda, Wiz cofounder Yinon Costica, Itzik Ben-Bassat, theGist CEO and an advisor to Insight Partners founder Jeff Horing, 8200 Alumni Association head Chen Shmilo, and OpenWeb CEO Nadav Shoval.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 18, 2023.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.