Israel pulls out of participation in Web Summit event over Paddy Cosgrave tweets

Israeli ambassador to Portugal accuses Web Summit chief executive of making ‘outrageous statements’

Israel will not participate in Web Summit’s Lisbon event over comments made by the tech conference’s chief executive Paddy Cosgrave, the Israeli ambassador to Portugal, Dor Shapira, said on Monday.

In post on X, Mr Shapira said he had written to the mayor of Lisbon, informing him of Israel’s decision to pull out of the 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.

“We should have zero tolerance to terrorist [sic] and terror acts,” the post added.


Mr Cosgrave made a number of social media posts commenting on the Israel-Hamas war over the weekend. “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,” one post read.

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

In a subsequent post, he described the actions of Hamas as “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.”

On Monday evening, Mr Cosgrave posted: “To repeat: War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies & should be called out for what they are. I will not relent.”

Mr Shapira claimed that a number of companies had also pulled out of Web Summit’s Lisbon event over Mr Cosgrave’s comments.

Various figures across the tech world have signalled their intent to cancel their participation in future Web Summit events in the wake of Mr Cosgrave’s comments.

David Marcus, the former chief executive of PayPal, said he would not attend any future Web Summit events.

Adam Singolda, the founder of advertising firm Taboola, said in a social media post on Sunday that he was “sad” to read Mr Cosgrave’s comments.

“I’ll never be part of your future initiatives and we’ll never work together again. And the truth is that I don’t matter as I’m only one Israeli guy, living in America, out of thousands who go to Web Summit. But – I’ll feel better about myself and that matters too,” he wrote.

Nadav Shoval, Israeli founder of social engagement platform OpenWeb, said that he would not attend Web Summit’s Lisbon conference, and that his firm would also be pulling its participation.

“As a company founded in Israel, OpenWeb stands STRONGLY with Israel. At a time when so many of our co-workers and their families remain in harm’s way, we will be completely clear on our position,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

Garry Tan, found of tech start-up accelator Y Combinator, said he would refuse to appear at Web Summit. “I condemn Hamas and pray for peace for the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Mr Tan wrote on X.

Ravi Gupta, a partner at California venture capital firm Sequoia, said that he was due to appear at Web Summit’s Lisbon event. “I’ve noticed them I won’t be attending,” he wrote in a post on X.

Web Summit’s Lisbon event will take place next month, from November 13th to 16th.

In response to queries, a spokesperson for Web Summit expressed “devastation” following the “loss of innocent life in Israel and Gaza”.

“We strongly condemn the horrific attacks by Hamas on Israelis.

“Web Summit’s mission is to connect people and ideas changing the world from all around the globe. The more voices we have from around the world, the more we can help change the world for the better.

“We are saddened to hear that Israeli ambassador to Lisbon, Dor Shapira and some Israelis in the tech community will no longer be attending Web Summit.

“We regret any hurt caused and extend our deepest sympathies to everyone who has lost loved ones. We hope for peaceful reconciliation,” the statement concluded.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist