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Video: Jerry Seinfeld Faces Student Walkout Over Israel Support at Duke Commencement

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During Duke University’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, veteran comedian Jerry Seinfeld watched as dozens of students staged a walkout to protest his vocal support for Israel.

As Seinfeld received an honorary degree on stage, the protesting students rose from their seats, waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Free, free Palestine.” The comedian looked on as the students exited Wallace Wade Stadium, met by jeers from some in the crowd.

The walkout was a response to Jerry Seinfeld’s public stances backing Israel, including signing a letter of support for the country and sharing his devotion to it on Instagram following the October 7th attacks. He had written:

“I lived and worked on a Kibbutz in Israel when I was 16 and I have loved our Jewish homeland ever since. My heart is breaking from these attacks and atrocities. But we are also a very strong people in our hearts and minds. We believe in justice, freedom and equality. We survive and flourish no matter what. I will always stand with Israel and the Jewish people.”

In his commencement speech, Seinfeld largely steered clear of directly addressing the protests. He went for light jokes instead while also giving life advice.

“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. Work. Exercise. Relationships. They all have a solid component of pure torture, and they are all 1,000% worth it.”

However, he did appear to hint at the controversy, defending “privilege” by stating, “I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian.”

Outside the stadium, the protesting graduates held their own makeshift graduation ceremony, joined by faculty, relatives, and other supporters. Chanting “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” they relayed their opposition to Seinfeld’s presence and Duke’s ties to Israel.

Shreya Joshi, a graduate and organizer of the protest, explained the decision to walk out during Seinfeld’s honorary degree presentation, saying, “None of us particularly wanted to listen to Seinfeld.”

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