Graduation: A celebration for all

During Sunday’s commencement at Duke University, students walked out as speaker Jerry Seinfeld was introduced. The reason why is that Seinfeld has openly supported Israel. This incident is the latest in a string of disruptions at colleges across the country.

As they left the ceremony, the students chanted “Free, free Palestine,” as a group of other graduates appeared to jeer them.

The walkout triggered many online comments, suggesting that the students were protesting because Seinfeld is Jewish, with some accusing the participants of antisemitism.

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Former .S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, posted, “So students at Drake [sic] walk out because the speaker, Jerry Seinfeld, is Jewish? This is antisemitism, cloaked in concern for Gaza.”

Democratic U.S. Rep Daniel Goldman of New York, posted on X, “Jerry Seinfeld is a Jewish American who has nothing at all to do with Israel’s foreign policy or military defense. Holding an American Jew responsible for the actions of the Israeli government is quintessential antisemitism.”

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The organizers of the walkout claimed their decision had nothing to do with the actor’s religion but with him being vocal in supporting Israel. Further, the protesters called for Duke University to disclose its investments in Israel and consider divesting from companies with connections to Israel. They called for a ceasefire amid the ongoing conflict.

Seinfeld received an honorary degree and delivered his speech without major interruptions.

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“We’re excited and delighted for the Class of 2024 and their families. 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,” Duke spokesperson Frank Tramble said in a statement.