Seinfeld Speaks at Duke Graduation, Leading to Walkout

Comedian has voiced support for Israel
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Seinfeld Speech Leads to Walkout at Duke Commencement
Commencement speaker Jerry Seinfeld laughs on stage during the school's graduation ceremony, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Durham, NC.   (Jared Lazarus/Duke University via AP)

Jerry Seinfeld has made his support for Israel clear, and as such, some of Duke University's recent graduates were unhappy that the comedian was chosen as this year's commencement speaker. Social media videos (see one example at Fox News) show a group of students carrying Palestinian flags walking down an aisle on the field where the ceremony was taking place, some of them chanting "Free Palestine," while other students and attendees can also be seen walking out of the stadium bleachers. Reuters puts the number of students who left at "dozens." Boos are also heard as Seinfeld was introduced, though NBC News reports it's not clear whether the boos were intended for him or for the people staging a walkout.

Seinfeld, 70, was also receiving an honorary doctorate from the North Carolina university, which his son attends and from which his daughter graduated. After the walkout, chants of "Jerry! Jerry!" were heard, and the comedian finished the rest of his speech with no major interruptions. "A lot of you are thinking, 'I can't believe they invited this guy.' Too late," he said as he launched into his commencement speech. Later, he said he wanted to "defend" the concept of privilege: "I say, use your privilege. I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian." While a few other protests broke out at other commencement ceremonies this weekend, the AP reports they have mostly been "subtle" acts of defiance and generally the graduations have remained peaceful. (More Jerry Seinfeld stories.)

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