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Pro-Palestinian students walk out on Seinfeld commencement speech at Duke

Several dozen pro-Palestinian students walked out at the start of comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s speech at Duke University on Sunday to protest his open support for Israel. Seinfeld, who is Jewish, has become more vocal recently about antisemitism.

A handful of students walked out of the ceremony at its start, but a large cadre of activists left as the comedian was announced amid cheers and booing.

“Disclose, divest — we will not stop, we will not rest” and “Free, free, free Palestine” echoed in the stadium as Seinfeld was announced, the Duke Chronicle student newspaper reported. The students who left held aloft a Palestinian flag, but some shouted “Jerry! Jerry!” at the start of his talk, and he was given an honorary degree from Duke, the newspaper reported.

“Senior Skijler Hutson, one of the student organizers of the walk-out, wrote in a May 12 email to The Chronicle that the University’s decision to have Seinfeld speak at the ceremony ‘only solidified what has long been obvious: Duke University is more concerned with the interests of its donors than with taking action against genocide,'” it reported.

Deadline reported that “Seinfeld has been a vocal supporter of Israel since the Oct. 7 attack” and that he “also met with families of the hostages and visited a kibbutz destroyed by the terror attack during a trip to Israel in December. Seinfeld did not touch on the Gaza conflict during his speech at Duke.”

ABC 11 reported Seinfeld’s speech was peppered with jokes and inspiring words of wisdom:

“You went to Duke, that is an unbelievable privilege. I now have an honorary doctorate, a humane letters degree from Duke University, and if I can figure out a way to use that, I will,” Seinfeld said adding a piece of advice to graduates.

“Find something where you love the good parts and don’t mind the bad parts too much. The torture you’re comfortable with, this is the golden path to victory in life.”

Ultimately, Seinfeld told students to work hard and keep their humor as they enter the next chapter of their lives.

Some on social media expressed incredulity over the walkout. “Imagine walking out on Jerry Seinfeld in support of Hamas. He and Larry David couldn’t have scripted a story this ridiculous,” one observer posted on X.

Seinfeld has expressed his frustration with college students in the past. In 2015, Seinfeld chided politically correct comedy and said he won’t do shows on college campuses anymore.

“They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” he said about college students at the time. “They don’t know what the f­—k they’re talking about.”

MORE: Penn faculty, students break down in tears after cops sweep pro-Hamas encampment

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.