Duke Graduation Speaker Controversy: Seinfeld, Israel Support, and Student Walkout

Several recent graduates of Duke University expressed dissatisfaction with Jerry Seinfeld's selection as this year's graduation speaker since the comedian has made it obvious that he supports Israel. A group of students carrying Palestinian flags can be seen in social media videos (see one at Fox News) walking down an aisle on the field where the ceremony was held. Some of them are chanting "Free Palestine," and other students and attendees can also be seen leaving the stadium bleachers. According to Reuters, "dozens" of pupils dropped out. As Seinfeld was presented, there were additional boos, though it is unclear from NBC News whether they were directed at him or at the participants in the walkout.

The institution in North Carolina, where Seinfeld's daughter graduated and his son studies, was also awarding Seinfeld, 70, an honorary doctorate. Following the exit, there were cries of "Jerry! Jerry!" and the comic continued his address without any significant disruptions. He stated, "A lot of you are thinking, 'I can not believe they invited this guy.' Too late," before launching into his graduation address. Subsequently, he declared his intention to "fight" the idea of privilege, saying, "Make use of your advantage. As a Jewish lad from New York, I grew up. If you choose to become a comic, it is a luxury." Although there have been a few more demonstrations this weekend at other commencement ceremonies, the AP notes that these have mostly been "subtle" gestures of resistance and that overall the graduations have been peaceful.


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