Duke students walk out before Jerry Seinfeld graduation speech

Students at Duke University walked out of Sunday’s commencement ceremony before comedian Jerry Seinfeld delivered a speech.

Some of them waved Palestinian flags on their way out, signaling the walkout was in protest of Seinfeld’s support for Israel.

Boos were heard as the students walked out following Seinfeld’s introduction, and the crowd began chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” before he began the speech, according to videos shared online.

Seinfeld, 70, did not mention the protests, Israel, Gaza or student activism in his ensuing address, which went on uninterrupted.

“A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late,” he joked at one point.

Seinfeld traveled to Israel in the days following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the country. In an April interview with GQ, he said: “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.”

Since Columbia University students set up a pro-Palestinian encampment in late April, college students across the country have taken various actions to protest U.S. funding of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

While Columbia canceled its commencement ceremony, students on other campuses have used graduations as opportunities to protest. Both Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Vermont took back speaking invitations to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield following outcry from students.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, about 100 students and at least one adjunct professor walked out Saturday before Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s commencement speech. The protest was organized by Students for Justice in Palestine.

And at the University of California Berkeley, long a hub of civil disobedience, hundreds of students disrupted Saturday’s graduation ceremony with chants of “Free Palestine!” and “Divest!”

“I’m going to look back at this and be proud that I stood up for what I did,” graduating senior Jasmine Esquivel told SFGATE after the ceremony. “Everyone knows that this is a genocide.”

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