If you’re not familiar with Web Summit, it’s one of the largest annual tech sector conventions in the world. Next month, it will be held in Lisbon, Spain. But this year’s shindig will reportedly be taking place without the CEO who organizes the event. Paddy Cosgrave abruptly resigned from his role yesterday, but not because of any sort of organizational failure on his part. Mr. Cosgrave made the decision last week to take to social media and accuse Israel of “war crimes” in their response to the invasion by Hamas. The backlash came quickly, and Cosgrave opted to depart and seek out other opportunities. And he’s not the only one who has begun paying a professional price for their perceived support of Hamas and terrorism. (ABC News)
Paddy Cosgrave, the chief executive officer of a prominent European tech conference called Web Summit, resigned from his role on Saturday amid backlash for his public statements that suggested Israel was committing war crimes.
A spokesperson for Web Summit, which organizes one of the world’s largest tech conferences every year, said in an e-mailed statement sent to The Associated Press that it will appoint a new CEO, and the conference will go ahead next month in Lisbon as planned.
Cosgrave, the Irish entrepreneur who is also founder of Web Summit, said in a statement Saturday that his personal comments “have become a distraction from the event, and our team, our sponsors, our startups and the people who attend.”
The pushback had grown rapidly over the first week following Cosgrave’s initial commentary on the Gaza-Israeli war. Some of the biggest names in the tech sector including Intel, Meta and Google pulled out from participating in a period of days. It was obvious that they weren’t opposed to the idea of the summit itself since they had all participated previously. It was Cosgrave’s participation they were boycotting. So rather than see the entire event implode, he decided to issue an apology and bow out.
But what was he apologizing for? On the 13th of October, he took to Twitter and claimed to be “shocked” at the responses from so many countries and companies that were taking Israel’s side. He pointed out his own government in Ireland approvingly for being the exception and remaining “neutral.” He wrote, “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are.”
He attempted to clean up the mess on the 15th, tweeting that the actions of Hamas were “outrageous and disgusting.” But he couldn’t restrain himself and added a caveat saying that Israel has the right to defend itself, but not “to break international law.” That clearly wasn’t enough and the backlash against Web Summit continued.
Like anyone else, Mr. Cosgrave is entitled to his opinions. But the world also has the right to respond when such a high-profile figure elects to speak out. And if you can manage to be “shocked” by people supporting Israel while not immediately expressing more shock and outrage at the actions of the Hamas terrorists in Israel, I really have to question your priorities at a minimum.
At this point, the argument is largely hypothetical since Cosgrave is out the door. Others have been forced to join him. And speaking of “out the door,” a large number of patrons at a comedy club in Boston walked out on Dave Chappelle this week. Instead of telling his usual jokes and stories, the comic opted to begin criticizing the United States government over its support of Israel. And he too invoked the words “war crimes” when describing Israel’s response. You might be sensing a theme here. The people around America who are waiving Palestinian flags and hoisting signs supporting Hamas or Palestine draw disproportionate amounts of earned media, but they are a small minority of the nation. Most people support Israel and decry terrorism. And only a monster could offer support to those who murder, rape, kidnap and savage innocent civilians. Maybe just go back to trying to be funny, Dave. It’s probably healthier for your career.