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Duke Students Stage Walkout at Commencement Speech Over Jerry Seinfeld Israel Support

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Jerry Seinfeld at the time of graduation speech in Duke University.

At Duke University’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, a significant number of students walked out as a form of protest against the choice of comedian Jerry Seinfeld as the guest speaker. They expressed their discontent by chanting “free Palestine.” Seinfeld’s vocal support for Israel, particularly during the recent conflict in Gaza, prompted the walkout.

At Duke University’s graduation ceremony, which took place in the football stadium, amidst a sea of graduates clad in robes and caps, a noticeable group began to exit.

Some of them were waving Palestinian flags as they made their way out. These individuals were expressing their dissatisfaction with the selection of comedian Jerry Seinfeld as the keynote speaker.

Several people also left their seats in the viewing stands, among them was someone wearing a keffiyeh. It is a traditional Middle Eastern scarf often seen as a symbol of support for the Palestinian cause.

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They joined the departing students in expressing their discontent with Jerry Seinfeld’s presence as the commencement speaker.

As some students and attendees exited in protest, those who remained behind could heard chanting “Jerry! Jerry!.” As the actor awarded an honorary degree. Despite the mixed reactions, Jerry Seinfeld continued with his speech, delivering it without any significant disruptions.

Jerry Seinfeld addressed the audience, acknowledging the skepticism some might have about his invitation. By saying, “A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late.” He then promised to “defend” the idea of privilege. “I say, use your privilege,” Seinfeld continued. “I grew up a Jewish boy from New York.

That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian,” he added, highlighting his own background as an example.

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In a statement addressing the situation, Duke University spokesperson Frank Tramble emphasized the university’s recognition of the profound emotions within the community. Tramble stated, “We understand the depth of feeling in our community.” He reiterated the institution’s steadfast commitment to upholding the rights of all individuals at Duke to express their views peacefully.

Tramble further emphasized that while acknowledging and respecting these expressions. It’s essential to ensure that they do not detract from the celebration of the graduates and their families’ achievements.

Dozens walk out of university commencement ceremony in protest against comedian's vocal support for Israel.
Dozens walk out of university commencement ceremony in protest against comedian’s vocal support for Israel.

Jerry Seinfeld has been a vocal supporter of Israel since October 7th. When the militant group Hamas caused significant casualties and abductions. According to Israeli reports, this event resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and the abduction of 252 others. With 133 individuals still believed to held captive in Gaza.

Additionally, Israeli military operations have led to the deaths of over 35,000 Palestinians. As reported by health officials in the Hamas controlled Palestinian territory. Seinfeld’s support for Israel has been evident through his visits to the country and his public statements advocating for its interests.

The White House announced on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is supportive of peaceful protests. Which taking place at college commencement ceremonies. Particularly those where he and other administration officials scheduled to speak.

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This statement underscores the administration’s commitment to upholding the right to peaceful expression. While acknowledging the significance of such events for graduates and their families.

The walkout during Duke University’s graduation ceremony represents. The most recent example of protests that have stirred up campuses across the United States. These protests are driven by students advocating for their universities to divest from companies involved in the arms trade. And other enterprises that profit from conflicts.

Additionally, protesters are demanding amnesty for students and faculty members. Who have faced disciplinary actions or termination due to their participation in protests. This wave of activism underscores the growing concern among students. About the ethical implications of their institutions’ investments and the importance of protecting the rights of those who speak out against perceived injustices.

During Emerson College’s commencement ceremony in Boston, chants disrupted the remarks made by the school’s president on Sunday. In a video recording of the event, several students observed walking across the stage to receive their degrees while carrying signs expressing their solidarity with Palestinians.

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Among them, one woman prominently unfurled a Palestinian flag, drawing attention to the ongoing conflict in the region. This act of protest highlights the significance of graduation ceremonies as platforms for students to voice their concerns and advocate for causes they believe in.

At Pomona College in southern California, during the commencement ceremony on Sunday evening, police stepped in to assist graduates’ families. They helped them navigate past a group of pro-Palestinian protesters who were attempting to block access to the event.

This intervention ensured that attendees could safely enter the ceremony despite the presence of demonstrators.

Last week, demonstrators erected an encampment on the campus’s ceremony stage at Pomona College. As a result, the school made the decision to relocate the commencement celebrations to the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles. This move was intended to ensure the smooth conduct of the event and the safety of all participants amid the ongoing protests.

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During the commencement ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators made their presence known. They waved flags and chanted, drawing attention to their cause.

According to reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, these demonstrators were escorted to the back of the stadium by authorities. This action was taken to manage the situation and ensure that the ceremony proceeded smoothly for all attendees.

The ongoing protests have led several US universities to make significant changes to their graduation plans. Columbia University in New York and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have decided to cancel their main graduation ceremonies scheduled for this month due to the unrest.

Additionally, other colleges and universities across the country have opted to either relocate or modify their commencement ceremonies in response to the protests. These adjustments reflect the challenges faced by institutions in balancing the celebration of academic achievements with the need to address social and political issues impacting their communities.

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  1. Pingback: David Sanborn, American Alto Saxophonist, Died at Age 78 - Sports Groovy

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