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January 21, 2022 3:29 pm
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Teacher at Mexico City University Fired for ‘Joke’ in Zoom Class Mocking Holocaust Victims

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Former CESSA University professor Irene García Méndez with students for the class, “The Right to Hospitality.” Photo Credit: Twitter.

A teacher has been fired from a Mexico City university after she was seen mocking Holocaust victims during a virtual Zoom class, CESSA (Center for Advanced Studies of San Ángel) University confirmed on Thursday.

“Pay attention: what’s the difference between a pizza and a Jew?” asked Irene García Méndez on Tuesday during a portion of the class set aside for making jokes, according to a transcript by the El Universal newspaper.

Receiving no response from her students, she continued, “That pizza doesn’t scream when they put it in the oven.”

“No?” Méndez, laughing, asked her students, who remained quiet.

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One female student replied, “Your joke is too tasteless.”

“It’s strong,” Méndez said.

“I’m telling you, as a Jew, I find your joke too tasteless,” the student said, “I am going to withdraw from your class.”

“I know doll,” Méndez rejoined as the student signed off. “We can all tell jokes. I understand your displeasure.”

Defending her comments after the girl had left the course, Méndez continued, “I understand your displeasure perfectly, but we can understand that there are different characteristics and different ways to help and we were taking it in a nice way, it is not necessary to go to these degrees.”

Adina Chelminsky, a Jewish-Mexican podcaster and entrepreneur who shared footage of Méndez’s comments on Twitter, said the incident brought her to tears.

“We Jews are used to antisemitism in all its forms,” she tweeted Thursday. “But there are scenes that make our skin crawl because they are so commonplace. This video made me cry with rage and anger (and sadness). Because it is not a joke.”

On Thursday, CESSA University announced that Méndez had been dismissed, and said her remarks “should be regarded as her personal views and do not reflect our institutional values.”

“We offer an apology to our students, alumni, professors, and collaborators, as well as to the Jewish Community and to all the people offended by these out of place comments,” the statement said. “Respect is the basis that guides our actions.”

Earlier that day, CESSA Rector and General Director Alonso Guerrero Arteaga apologized to the Jewish community and said the administration was “deeply dismayed” by what transpired.

“In this institution, we have always taken care to respect every individual, regardless of their religion, sexual orientation or opinion, which is why we are very sorry that this has happened in one of our classrooms,” Arteaga wrote in a statement.

“On behalf of CESSA University, I offer an apology for such offensive comments to the Jewish community. For many years we have maintained a close and positive relationship, through students and professors in our house of studies, as well as the different high schools with which we have a very good relationship, and we wish to continue to maintain it in this way.”

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