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Palantir convenes high-level gathering in Davos to support Israeli hostages

Families of hostages urged attendees to do whatever they can to push for the freedom of captives in Gaza

The software giant Palantir hosted a high-level gathering on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with family members of Israeli hostages held in Gaza as well as freed Israeli captives, who described their experiences in searing detail and urged attendees to show support for the remaining abductees.

In a series of emotional speeches to a packed room at Palantir’s pavilion on the promenade in Davos, the audience, which included a number of top tech and business leaders, heard a range of accounts from Israelis affected by the violence. 

Participants at the event, hosted by Palantir CEO Alex Karp, were moved to tears when Rachel Goldberg-Polin showed footage of the moment her 23-year-old son was brutally abducted by Hamas terrorists from a music festival targeted during the Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel. Goldberg-Polin challenged participants to take action in whatever way possible to bring the hostages home.

Noam Peri, an Israeli whose 79-year-old father was abducted by Hamas, read a quote from Elie Wiesel and implored attendees to speak up on behalf of the hostages. 

Nili Margalit, an Israeli nurse who was held in Gaza for nearly 50 days, described feeling guilty for leaving the other hostages behind, some of whom she had been helping with medical treatment, she said. Her father, Eliyahu, was killed by Hamas but his body remains in Gaza. In her remarks, Margalit urged the room to do everything in their power to help the hostages.

Moran Stella Yanai, a jewelry designer who was captured at the music festival, recalled countless panic attacks as well as a constant fear of being raped following her abduction by Hamas.

Eyal Waldman, whose daughter Danielle was killed at the music festival with her boyfriend, also addressed the room, where participants were given yellow ribbons, a symbol of solidarity with the hostages, as well as dog tag necklaces reading, in English and Hebrew, “Bring them home — now!”

The event was attended by several high-profile figures across business, media, politics and philanthropy, including Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon; Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell Technologies; Nicola Mendelsohn, a top executive at Meta; Alexander Taylor, the CEO of Cox Enterprises; Martin Sorrell, the founder and former CEO of WPP; and Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management.

In a nod to Palantir, Yossi Vardi, an Israeli entrepreneur and investor who gave remarks at the gathering, praised Karp for continuing to stand with Israel.

Palantir has been among the most outspoken companies expressing support for Israel and opposing campus antisemitism in the wake of the attacks. The data analytics firm, which held its first board meeting of 2024 in Tel Aviv earlier this month, said last week that it had agreed to a strategic partnership with the Israeli Defense Ministry to assist the country in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The company also launched an initiative in December to recruit Jewish students who have feared for their safety amid an uptick in antisemitic incidents on college campuses across the country.

The event on Wednesday also featured remarks from Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, who watched footage of Hamas’ atrocities screened at Davos on Tuesday. Victor Halberstadt, a Dutch Holocaust survivor who teaches economics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke as well.

Among other participants, the gathering included two former Israeli Knesset members, Tzipi Livni and Stav Shaffir, as well as Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League; Fred Kempe, the CEO of the Atlantic Council; and Ken Weinstein, the Japan chair at Hudson Institute.

Two journalists from The New York Times, Bret Stephens and Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Ben Smith, the editor in chief of Semafor, were also present at the event.

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