James Howarth Repents For Antisemitic Comments About Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

In June 2015*, I wrote about a financial adviser called James Howarth, who had tweeted some antisemitic things towards then assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

I crowned James Howarth my “Antisemitic Numbskull Of The Day.”

Jump to last week, when one James Howarth emailed me:

Dear David

A few years ago I disagreed on a political matter with Joshua Frydenberg. Nothing to do with his religion but I transgressed and mentioned it in a derogatory way.

I am not antisemitic, but I deserved to be punished.

Whilst I committed no crime, being branded antisemitic is economic homicide.

How can I fix this matter? I will do anything.

I am a believer in god. I have many Jewish friends. Frank Goldstein (Gold Coast Australia – business leader), a father of one of my best friends Martin, used to tell me I am more Jewish than him. I am not sure what he meant, but I took it as a compliment as I love the life idioms that are considered Jewish and they are profound and deeply meaningful to me.

As a child, I used to push the elevator button for Mrs Clayman on Saturdays. Every Saturday. I used to love it when she’d knock on my door and ask, but I was never conscious of why it was only on Saturday. 

I have attended many Shabbat meals and was essentially family to the Goldstein family at one point. 
As it turns out, my wife’s family were Jewish, and had changed their last name in and around WWI from Lentz to Lents. 

I am fundamentally a good person, but I am human. I have made many mistakes in life but always felt I could fix them. This is different. This seems insurmountable without direction.

I attended a Jewish funeral proceeding just 2 or 3 months before I used Twitter to express my disgust about regulations that essentially turned out bad for the financial advice industry, and I’m sure all involved regret supporting. 

If you could guide me, I’d be an advocate for your cause.

I received some 2000 death threats, including some against my daughter. I forgive, I understand or at least begin to. 

I would like the opportunity to redeem my life. I can be of service to humanity and society or I can give up. 

How can I seek redemption?

Can you forgive me? 

Sincerely, James Howarth

I was intrigued, cynical, yet hopeful, given my past experience with a former ‘antisemite’ expressing remorse for their hurtful words. So I responded to James:

Hi James,

At first I did not know to what you are referring, but I checked my website and see I posted about you.

I went over what you said and honestly cannot understand how you could have harped on about Josh being Jewish like that, without having antipathy towards Jews. Perhaps you can give me more insight. Why?

In Judaism, we believe in teshuva (repentance), but it needs to be genuine. I am trying to work out if you have approached me because business is hurting or whether you genuinely regret causing pain with your words.

Regards, David

James responded:

Hi David

I’m genuinely interested in being a better person and making the world a better place.  

I am not antisemitic.

How can I repent in a way that clears my name?

It’s not that business is hurting; I’ve been unemployed for 6 years. It’s economic homicide to have no income. I’m a good person that can have value to society, if only society would let me. 

6 years is 33% of my working life. An actual crime has an end date. This accusation of antisemitism does not.

I was unaware that Josh Frydenberg was Australia’s only Jewish politician ever (ed note: He’s not). I see the value that holds. I was just trying to prevent and bring attention to a disastrous, proposed law change that he assumed the industry supported but did not. AMP is nearly bankrupt. 75% of the industry advisers want to leave.

I should not have brought up his Judaism. I lost my mind. I attacked the man and not the issue.

I moved to the United States in 2016. But still, Google is global. 

I have since given deep thought to religion and follow the Jewish learning Institute, which has me scientifically convinced. It’s hard to do. I watch it occasionally to find a way to fix the situation. 

The false accusation of being antisemitic is permanent. I did act in an antisemitic way, but I’m not antisemitic. 

How can I make this right? What is the system you have in place to correct one’s actions like mine in the eyes of the lord. I believe in the same god as you. I follow the same commandments as you.

How can I be of service to society again and not an outcast of no value?

Kindest regards, James

At this point in time, I was still finding it hard to really understand whether James was being genuine, or just knew what to write. So I request a Zoom meeting.

He agreed.

Yesterday evening, Israel time, I spoke with James Howarth, face-to-face on Zoom. What I found was a man in pain, genuine in his desire to repent for his hurtful, antisemitic words. Either that, or he deserves an Academy Award. But I pride myself on being a good judge of character. There is no way he was faking his words and his tears.

I felt his pain.

James is harshest on himself, and still has work to do in order to find self-love again. But I told him as a fellow human, he is precious. All men were made in the image of G-d, including him. I explained to him the Jewish concept of Teshuva (repentance), and how this involves regret, confession, and committing to not repeat the sin again. This is exactly what James was doing.

James pledged to fight racism and antisemitism. He expressed a desire to come to Israel (along with a fear the Israeli government may not allow him in, because of his past words). We ended the call, both moved by the other.

Then today, I received this email from James:

Thank you David

I reached out to Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, who is now the head of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand. I wrote an apology and told him of our conversation and your work with Israellycool. 

He wrote back a thank you and may contact you.

I hope to one day be as successful as I once was, with luck and effort and I intend to support your charitable work.

I think it’s tremendous what you do and I can feel the  love you have. I also watched some videos and felt a great affection for your Australian character when you described cricket as like baseball but a lot better. I laughed until I teared up. 

I miss Australia.

Thank you Sir.

Kindest regards, James

I responded:

Hey James,

Your email made my day ! Thanks for the kind words.

I was wondering if I could write about your email – generally speaking, without giving away any identifying information (name, nationality, etc) whatsoever.

I just want to give more hope to my readers that people can change for the better.

Regards, David

 James just emailed me is response:

David

You can use my name, nationality and anything you feel would aid your cause and work. I think what you do is incredible. 

I wrote to the Australian Jewish News and hopefully I am received well. Although, I am holding my breath in trepidation. 

You can quote me, or anything a person who seeks to improve the planet would do.

I love you Sir, and appreciate your kindness and time.

Hopefully we can share a meal or beer in Israel, one day. I would be honoured. 

With Love, James Howarth

I look forward to that day, James.

*I have deleted the post for obvious reasons

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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