Duke graduates protest Seinfeld’s Israel support with commencement walkout

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Jerry Seinfeld

NEW YORK, May 13: During Duke University’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, a group of students staged a walkout in protest against comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who served as the guest speaker. The demonstration, captured in a video posted on social media, saw dozens of students exiting the ceremony while chanting “Free Palestine.”

The video footage, which Reuters verified, depicted individuals clad in graduation attire, some brandishing Palestinian flags, leaving the university’s football stadium where the event took place. Attendees, including a person wearing a keffiyeh, a symbol associated with Palestinian solidarity, were also seen departing from the viewing stands.

Despite the protest, Seinfeld continued with his speech, receiving an honorary degree from the university. In his address, he acknowledged the controversy surrounding his invitation, humorously remarking, “A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late.”

Duke University spokesperson Frank Tramble acknowledged the right of students to express their views peacefully while affirming the university’s commitment to respecting differing perspectives.

Seinfeld’s vocal support for Israel, particularly during the conflict in Gaza, has drawn criticism from some quarters. The protest at Duke’s graduation ceremony underscores the ongoing debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has reverberated on college campuses across the United States.

The demonstration at Duke follows similar protests at other institutions, including Emerson College in Boston, where students disrupted the commencement ceremony with chants and displays of support for Palestinians.

As tensions persist, some universities have taken action, with several opting to modify or cancel graduation ceremonies amidst calls for divestment from companies linked to the conflict and amnesty for individuals disciplined for protesting.

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