Student protesters walk out on Seinfeld speech at Duke University graduation

The comedian's support of Israel resulted in students calling for the university to cancel his commencement address


Jessica Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld attend The 2024 Met Gala in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

A group of anti-Israel protesters marched out on Jerry Seinfeld while he was speaking at a graduation ceremony at a university in North Carolina.

The Jewish comedian received an honorary degree during Duke University’s commencement celebration in Durham, N.C. on Sunday, but as he was called to the stage anti-Israel protesters marched out, chanting “Free, free Palestine.”

Some students booed the small number of protesters who walked out, and outside the stadium where the ceremony took place, graduates walked around campus, chanting “Disclose. Divest. We will not stop. We will not rest,” The New York Times reported.

Frank Tramble, Duke’s vice president for marketing, communications and public affairs said: “We understand the depth of feeling in our community, and as we have all year, we respect the right of everyone at Duke to express their views peacefully, without preventing graduates and their families from celebrating their achievement.”

In his commencement speech, Seinfeld said: “I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian.”

Seinfeld, who had two children study at Duke, has been vocal in his support for Israel since October 7.

In December, the comedian took part in a solidarity visit with his family and toured Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the Gaza border communities whose residents were murdered by Hamas.

Seinfeld also met with families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

His wife, Jessica Seinfeld, promoted a counter protest at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to the Times.

In a interview with GQ in April, Seinfeld was asked about his decision to visit Israel.

He said: “Well, I’m Jewish. And you grow up learning about antisemitism, but it’s kind of in a book.

“It never crossed my mind that people would look at me as anything other than, ‘I like this comedian. I don’t like this comedian.'”

He added: “I think most Jews of my generation never thought about antisemitism.

“It was from history books, and then it was something different.

“Every Jewish person I know was surprised by how hostile the reaction was.”

 When Seinfeld was asked if he regretted his decision to visit Israel he said: “No, not at all. I don’t preach about it. I have my personal feelings about it that I discuss privately. It’s not part of what I can do comedically, but my feelings are very strong.”

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