A leading tech CEO has resigned following criticism of his comments about Israel on Twitter. Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave, the founder and chief executive of Web Summit – an annual technology summit held in Portugal – stood down on October 21 after a spat with fellow technology businesspeople, some of whom accused him of supporting terrorists.
Following the terror attack on Israel on October 7, Cosgrave said he was “shocked” by the reaction of Western leaders to Israel’s retaliatory action in Gaza. He praised Ireland’s government for “doing the right thing,” adding that “war crimes are war crimes, even when committed by allies.”
Ireland failed in its recent attempt to persuade other EU governments to issue a statement condemning Israel’s response and calling for a ceasefire. Instead, the EU said it stood firmly with Israel and condemned “in the strongest possible terms the multiple and indiscriminate attacks across Israel by Hamas.”
Mr. Cosgrave prompted a storm of criticism online but initially remained undeterred and reiterated his statement that “war crimes are war crimes.” Some Twitter posters said that while civilians die on both sides, one side has openly declared its intent to commit genocide against the other. Some denounced him for posting data showing that more Palestinians have died in the conflict while the attack on Isreal was still ongoing.
Former PayPal and Facebook executive David Marcus told Cosgrave he would not participate in future Web Summit conferences. Marcus wrote that he was saddened by the Irish businessman’s “ill-informed stance.” He particularly objected to the fact that Cosgrave had not actually criticized Hamas. Instead, he “chose to support terrorists.” As a result, Mr. Marcus told him he would “never attend/sponsor/speak at any of your events again.”
Cosgrave later apologized, but it appeared too late for some; Intel, Google, Meta, and Siemens had already pulled out of his 2023 event. A new CEO will be appointed at the conference in Lisbon in November.