Web Summit founder apologises following backlash over Israel-Hamas comments

Paddy Cosgrave’s social media posts had caused several influential figures in tech sector to distance themselves from Web Summit

Paddy Cosgrave, founder of the Web Summit tech conference, has issued an apology over recent comments he made on social media about the Israel-Hamas conflict, which drew criticism from supporters of Israel.

In a previous post on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Cosgrave said: “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.”

He said he was “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”.

In a subsequent post, he added the actions of Hamas were “outrageous and disgusting”.


His initial comments led several influential figures in the tech sector to state they would not participate in future Web Summit events.

Dor Shapira, the Israeli ambassador to Portugal, said Israel would also boycott the event, which takes place in Lisbon.

Following the backlash, Mr Cosgrave issued a lengthy apology in a statement on Tuesday.

“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,” he said.

“What is needed at this time is compassion, and I did not convey that. Web Summit has a long history of partnership with Israel and its tech firms, and I am deeply regretful that those friends were hurt by any of what I said.

“I unequivocally support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. I unequivocally support a two-state solution,” he said.

“Like so many figures globally, I also believe that, in defending itself, Israel should adhere to international law and the Geneva conventions.

“My aim is and always has been to strive for peace. Ultimately, I hope with all my heart that this can be achieved,” he said.

The Web Summit, which was set up in Dublin before being moved to Lisbon in 2015, is due to take place next month from November 13th to 16th.

Mr Shapira had written to the mayor of Lisbon stating Israel would pull out from any involvement in the popular conference “due to the outrageous statements” made by Mr 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,” he said.

In his statement, Mr Cosgrave said he wanted to reiterate that he unreservedly condemned Hamas’s “evil, disgusting and monstrous October 7th attack”.

“I also call for the unconditional release of all hostages. As a parent, I sympathise deeply with the families of the victims of this appalling act, and mourn for all the innocent lives lost in this and other wars,” he said.

“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 civilised,” he said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times