Jerry Seinfeld reflects on criticism from pro-Palestinian protesters: 'It's so dumb'

Jerry Seinfeld has become an unlikely political lightning rod amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the actor-comedian finds it "so dumb" and "comical."

The "Seinfeld" star, who has been criticized by pro-Palestinian protesters in recent weeks, discussed the backlash during an interview on the "Honestly with Bari Weiss" podcast.

Earlier this month, Seinfeld's commencement speech at Duke University was interrupted by a series of student walkouts (some students were seen holding Palestinian flags, indicating their protest was in connection with Seinfeld's support of Israel.) Less than a week later, protesters heckled his stand-up comedy show in Virginia.

When asked by host Bari Weiss about becoming a "politicized" figure, Seinfeld described his controversial status as "so dumb," adding that he finds it "comical that people would cast me in a political light."

"I say to (people at my shows), 'I love that these young people, they’re trying to get engaged with politics. We have to just correct their aim a little bit,' " Seinfeld joked. "They don't seem to understand that, as comedians, we really don't control anything."

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who recently has been the target of pro-Palestinian protesters, opened up about the backlash on "Honestly with Bari Weiss."
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who recently has been the target of pro-Palestinian protesters, opened up about the backlash on "Honestly with Bari Weiss."

The comedian visited Israel last year in the wake of Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack.

On Oct. 9, Seinfeld posted an "I Stand With Israel" graphic on social media, writing, "I lived and worked on a Kibbutz in Israel when I was 16 and I have loved our Jewish homeland ever since. My heart is breaking from these attacks and atrocities."

Jerry Seinfeld protest: Comedian's show interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters after Duke walkouts

Jerry Seinfeld's comedy show interrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters

During a May 18 performance at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia, Seinfeld was interrupted by several politically charged hecklers.

A video published by TMZ at the time showed a protester standing up and shouting at Seinfeld during his performance, "You're a genocide supporter." In another video shared on X, protesters could be heard shouting, "Save the children of Gaza."

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A representative for SevenVenues confirmed to USA TODAY that about 10 people interrupted the comedian's sold-out 7:30 p.m. performance and were removed by security without further incident.

"It’s so silly," Seinfeld told Weiss of the criticism. "It’s like, they want to express this sincere, intense rage. But again, a little off target. That's, to me, comedic."

Students walk out of Jerry Seinfeld's Duke commencement speech

As Seinfeld took the stage at Duke University May 12 to speak at the university's commencement ceremony, groups of students were seen walking out, video on social media showed at the time. Some students held Palestinian flags in protest of the comic’s support of Israel, while other attendees could be heard supporting Seinfeld by chanting, "Jerry!"

Seinfeld, who received an honorary degree from Duke University, did not address the student walkouts during his commencement speech, nor did he comment on the Israel-Hamas war.

Jerry Seinfeld: Students walk out of comedian's Duke commencement speech after his support of Israel

Instead, the "Unfrosted" director delivered a comedic speech, telling students, "I can't imagine how sick you are of hearing about following your passion. I say, the hell with passion. Find something you can do. That would be great. If you try something and it doesn't work, that's OK, too. Most things do not work."

Seinfeld also told graduates that he admires their generation's ambitions "to create a more just and inclusive society" before adding that they should "not lose your sense of humor."

Contributing: Brendan Morrow, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jerry Seinfeld reflects on being target of pro-Palestinian protesters