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Duke students walk out of pro-Israel Jerry Seinfeld speech

Pro-Palestine students at Duke University, America, walk out in protest during pro-Israel comedian Jerry Seinfeld's address at their graduation ceremony

May 13, 2024 at 3:33 pm

Dozens of students at a commencement ceremony in Duke University staged a walk-out yesterday to protest its guest speaker, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who has supported Israel throughout the war against Gaza.

Video footage circulating on social media revealed robed graduates at Duke University in North Carolina chanting and waving Palestinian flags in protest as the actor received an honorary degree.

According to the New York Times, he announced on stage, “A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late, I say, use your privilege. I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian.”

Seinfeld has been publicly voicing his support for Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip since an attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas, on 7 October last year that killed nearly 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

At least 35,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women, have been killed since Israel launched its brutal bombing campaign in Gaza. An estimated 8,000 Palestinians are missing, presumed dead, under the rubble of their homes destroyed by Israel.

Meanwhile, outside the stadium where the graduation was held, the students who walked out held a makeshift graduation ceremony and were joined by some faculty and family members. They continued to chant, “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.”

In a statement following the ceremony, Duke University’s vice president for communications, Frank Tramble, 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.”

Students at universities around the world are gathering on their campuses in demonstrations against Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which started last month at New York’s Columbia University.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

In an interim ruling in January, the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) said it is “plausible” that Tel Aviv is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in the enclave.

READ: Columbia University, once leader in anti-war, anti-racism protests, now leads rallies for Palestine