On Saturday, Paddy Cosgrave, the CEO of Web Summit, a significant internet conference in Europe, resigned from his position in response to criticism over his public comments that implied Israel was committing war crimes.
A representative for Web Summit, which annually hosts one of the biggest tech conferences in the world, confirmed in an email statement to The Associated Press that the company will name a new CEO and that the conference will still take place in Lisbon the next month as scheduled. In a statement released on Saturday, Cosgrave, an Irish businessman and the creator of Web Summit, said that his personal remarks “have become a distraction from the event and our team, our sponsors, our startups, and the people who attend.”
He remarked, “I sincerely apologize once more for any hurt I may have caused.” The resignation of Cosgrave is a notable illustration of how the Israel-Hamas conflict has affected workplaces worldwide, with senior executives of well-known corporations voicing their opinions and employees griping that their opinions are not being heard.
Islamic rights activists claim that a large portion of the business response has downplayed the suffering in Gaza, where thousands have perished as a result of Israeli bombardment, and has bred fear among employees who wish to show their support for the Palestinians.
Jewish organizations have condemned the tepid or slow responses to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that left 1,400 people dead in Israel and precipitated the most recent battle.
Even after Cosgrave made a lengthy statement condemning the Hamas attacks and apologizing for the timing of his initial tweet while maintaining his general views on the conflict, Web Summit faced a growing number of industry titans withdrawing from the conference, including Intel, Meta, and Google.
On October 13, Cosgrave wrote on his X account, which was previously Twitter, that he was “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.”” “War crimes are war crimes, even when they are committed by allies, and they should be called out for what they are,” he continued.
He revised his tweet two days later, calling what Hamas had done “outrageous and disgusting,” but he also added, “Israel has a right to defend itself, but it does not, as I have already stated, have a right to break international law.”
He later apologized, saying, “What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that,” in a post on the Web Summit blog on October 17 and on his X account.
My goal has always been to work toward peace. “I also believe that Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva Conventions in defending itself, i.e., not commit war crimes,” he continued. Any nation engaged in any conflict must share this belief.
Even if it had been the target of crimes, no nation should violate these laws. “Bye for now,” he wrote in his final X post. I must leave this platform for a while.