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Students walk out ahead of Jerry Seinfeld speech

14-05-2024

CAROLINA: Dozens of pro-Palestinian students at a US university commencement ceremony staged a walk out ahead of veteran comedian’s Jerry Seinfeld guest speech.

Footage on social media showed some robed graduates at Duke University, North Carolina, chanting and waving Palestinian flags in protest as the actor received an honorary degree on Sunday.

Seinfeld has been a vocal supporter of Israel since the 7 October Hamas attacks and throughout the course of the war in Gaza.

Many of the students at the ceremony stayed to listen to his speech, with several chanting words of support.

The incident happened as the 70-year-old was introduced on stage at the university’s football stadium by the institution’s president, Vincent Price.

Loud booing and chants of “Free Palestine” could be heard in videos posted on social media

Several attendees in the surrounding rows could also be seen leaving as the actor began his speech.

Seinfeld, who is a Jewish actor and among 700 entertainment industry figures who signed an open letter in support of Israel’s right to defend itself following Hamas’s attack, managed to deliver his speech without further interruption.

Several in the crowd chanted “Jerry, Jerry” as he received his degree.

“A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late,” he said on Sunday, after pledging to “defend” the concept of privilege.

“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,” he told the graduates.

Seinfeld, who is the father of two students at Duke, visited a kibbutz in Israel in December and met with some of the families of hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas.

In a statement to media, 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.”

The demonstration was the latest in a series of pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked campuses across the US over the last few weeks.

Students have been calling for universities to boycott companies and individuals with ties to Israel amid the ongoing war.

Colombia University and the University of Southern California are among several to have cancelled or restructured their main graduation ceremonies.

Waves of Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza’s border into Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people.

More than 34,900 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of Israel’s offensive, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Marc Lovicott, a spokesperson for campus police, said the group, which he believed were students because they were wearing caps and gowns, “was kind of guided out but they left on their own.” No arrests were made.

Dozens of graduating students at Virginia Commonwealth University walked out on an address by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. While some of the estimated 100 students and family members who left during the Republican governor’s speech showed support for Palestinians, others held signs signaling opposition to Youngkin’s policies on education, according to WRIC-TV. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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