10 Downing Street
A policeman standing outside number 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence in London, U.K., on Thursday, March 4, 2010. Photo by Bloomberg
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British lawmakers will have the opportunity to participate in seminars on anti-Semitism awareness as of February, thanks to an initiative of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College, London.

Attendance will not be mandatory, however the British All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti Semitism hopes the seminars will attract attention.

While the seminars are set to begin next month, they have been in the planning stages for some time now.

Last month, the Conservative Aiden Burley, who was Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department of Transport, was sacked after he was photographed at a Nazi themed bachelor party. Burley had joined his drunken friends at a restaurant in the French Alps, as they were chanting Nazi songs and toasting the Third Reich, and posed for photos with the groom-to-be, who was wearing a World War II Nazi SS officer’s uniform.

When the photos were published in the British press, an apologetic Burley was summarily fired from his position as aide to British Transport Secretary Justine Greening. "I am deeply sorry, and want to take this opportunity to offer… an unreserved, wholehearted and full apology for the terrible offence this incident has undoubtedly caused,” Burley said, denying that he had taken part in the chanting.

The French prosecutor’s office has since announced they were opening an investigation into the incident. Under French law it is a crime to make anti-Semitic statements or exhibit Nazi uniforms or emblems in public, unless it is required for a film, play or other cultural production.

In another incident last month, Labour MP Paul Flynn questioned the loyalties of Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould, arguing that Gould, who is Jewish, was a “self-professed Zionist,” and that he had been told by two of his constituents imprisoned in Israel that Gould seemed to act more for Israel than Britain when he met them.

In later remarks to the Jewish Chronicle, Flynn said Britain’s ambassadors to Israel had never previously been Jewish because Britain needed “someone with roots in the UK who can't be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”