Israeli ambassador to Portugal encourages exodus from Lisbon’s Web Summit

Dor Shapira claims ‘dozens of companies’ have already pulled out (see update below)

A number of companies appear to be pulling out of Lisbon’s upcoming Web Summit due to comments made on the Israel/ Gaza situation by the event’s organiser Paddy Cosgrave.

Israel’s ambassador to Portugal Dor Shapiro has encouraged the exodus.

He tweeted this afternoon: “Today, I wrote to the mayor of Lisbon informing him that Israel will not participate in the Web Summit 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!”

With the spat rapidly gaining traction, comments on ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter) range from support for the Israeli ambassador’s reaction, to accusations that he is trying to “jeopardize a Portuguese event”.

Web Summit, which takes place from November 13 to 16 in Lisbon, is expecting tens of thousands of attendees – but there is no doubt that some do appear to have pulled out.

As to the offending comments, they can be found on Mr Cosgrave’s ‘X’ account:

“I’m shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders and governments, with the exception in particular of Ireland’s government, who for once are doing the right thing,” he tweeted on Friday (Ireland having stood out for wanting a strong call against any escalation of violence after the massacres in southern Israel on Saturday October 7).

Another tweet stated: “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies and should be called out for what they are.” 

In response to Paddy Cosgrave’s opinions, one of America’s best-known investors and tech podcasters, Jason Calacanis, urged him to “think this through”, writes the Irish Independent

Several Israeli technology executives then criticised Mr Cosgrave, and the Web Summit, for the stance taken, says the paper.

“These included the CEO of advertising company Taboola, Adam Singolda, and David Marcus, a previous senior executive for Facebook and PayPal, who said they would not work with the company again.

“I’ll never be part of your future initiatives and we’ll never work together again,” said Mr Singolda in a tweet addressed to Mr Cosgrave’s later tweet that “what Hamas did is outrageous and disgusting… It is by every measure an act of monstrous evil. Israel has a right to defend itself, but it does not, as I have already stated, have a right to break international law.”

Earlier today, amid mounting criticism from Israeli figures, Paddy Cosgrave added another statement.

“We are devastated to see the terrible killings and the level of innocent civilian casualties in Israel and Gaza (…) We condemn the attacks by Hamas and extend our deepest sympathies to everyone who has lost loved ones. We hope for peaceful reconciliation.”

But the damage appears to be running deep. As one comment on Dor Shapira’s exhortation for companies to follow Israel over Web Summit suggested, Paddy Cosgrave “is NOT the only Irish entrepreneur to defend Hamas. And, yes. SILENCE = DEFENDING. I want to be clear on that”.

UPDATE: Since this furore, Paddy Cosgrave has apologised for the way his comments were received, adding that he will now be taking some time off ‘X’ (formerly Twitter). The tech entrepreneur explains that he “unreservedly condemns the evil, disgusting and monstrous attack of October 7 by Hamas. I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages. As a father, I deeply sympathise with the families of the victims of this terrible act and mourn 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 the two-state solution. I realise that what I said, when I said it and how it was presented has caused deep hurt to many people. To all those who were hurt by my words, I sincerely apologise. What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey it. My goal is and always has been to fight for peace. Ultimately, I hope from the bottom of my heart that it can be achieved.”

His eloquent apology has reportedly not cut a lot of ice with Dor Shapira, but it may well have assuaged the various companies that were planning to pull out of next month’s Web Summit.

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