University of Notre Dame
Jacques Maritain Center   

                             26 Linden Lane
                             Princeton, New Jersey

                             November 9, 1954

Sir Robert Mayer
Finsbury House
Blomfield Street
London, E. C. 2

Dear Sir Robert,

Your kind letter reached me only a few days
ago.  My wife and I were greatly touched by your
gracious recollection of days past, and of the friendly
meetings in our apartment on Fifth Avenue; we send
you and Lady Mayer our cordial greetings.

I have tried to present my views on the problem
about which you and Berenson are concerned in my essay
"The mystery of Israel" (in Redeeming the Time); in a
little book "A Christian looks at the Jewish question"
(the title of the English edition is Antisemitism);
and in a letter to Hayim Greenberg (in The Range of
Reason) -- better perhaps, than I can do now in a brief

I would say, first, that Christianity is not, and
cannot be, antisemitic, for any antisemitic utterance
is an insult to Christ and His Mother, to the Apostles
and to the Church ("Spiritually we are Semites," Pius XI
has said)* in which the Gentiles are grafted on the olive
tree of Israel.  The positions of the Church on Israel
are expressed in St. Paul, Rom., ch. XI.-- But any kind
whatever of Christian civilization is neither the Church,
nor Christianity.  And that particular type of temporal
civilization which was medieval Christendom fostered a
certain type of antisemitism, religious in nature, --
because medieval Christendom was a "sacral" civilization,
in which the Jew was not a member of the temporal city;
he was tolerated in it (as opposed to the heretic) but
as a potential enemy, by reason of his refusal to 
recognize Christ.

* Here is a kind of confirmation of Berenson's
feeling: "how Jewish Christianity is."


Now medieval antisemitism, nefarious as it may have
been, (especially when allied with the greed of princes
for money) was essentially impatience against those who
prevented by their spiritual obstinacy the advent of
Christ's Kingdom on earth.  It was totally different from
racist antisemitism.  The latter, nevertheless, may be
regarded as an aggravated metamorphosis and secularization
of the former.  This does not authorize, in my opinion,
the Rev. Parkes to regard antisemitism as "a creation
of the Christian Church."

He says, furthermore, that the Jew should not "be
left out of the question."  That's right. At this point
I would say that the basic cause of antisemitism is the
thirst of the Jews for justice, and their eagerness to
have God here below, and the testimony given by their
indefectible hope.  They are in the world and cling to
the world, -- and with what tenacity!  And whatever they
may do, they are not of the world.  Is there any wonder
that the world is prone to hate them?  And it hates
Christians too.  In the last analysis, Maurice Samuel
was right in stating that modern antisemitism hates the
Jews not because they killed Christ but because they
gave Christ to the world.

Medieval Christendom is finished and will never
revive.  A new Christendom, if it ever comes about, will
belong not to "sacral" but to "secular" types of 
civilization. And Christians today are summoned to purify
themselves of those forms of thought and language
which are warped by some antisemitic bias inherited from
the errors of the past, and which have nothing to do
with the essence of Christianity but prey upon it as
parasites.  The only way open to us is to develop mutual
friendship, esteem and comprehension between Jews and

Israel is a paradox and a mystery.  I think that a
temptation for a number of contemporary Jews is to shun
their privilege of being the chosen people, so as to be
"like the others."  Another -- opposite -- temptation is
to yield (just like the other modern nations) to nationalism,
in order to preserve their identity (not realizing
that nationalism is but a perverted secularization of the
idea of the chosen people, -- brought about by peoples
who are not chosen . . .)

It is true that Israel is both people and religion.
Nevertheless Berenson is right, to my mind, in thinking
that the Jews have basic decisions to make in this
connection.  On the one hand, the state of Israel can neither 
be a theocratic state nor a neutral state.  There is a


distinct possibility that (if inner conflicts are 
satisfactorily solved) it may evolve toward a type of Democratic 
Society which, while being lay or secular (equal rights
for all, freedom or religion, etc.) would be at the
same time religiously inspired.  On the other hand, and
as concerns the Jews as a whole, I do not see how they
will be able to maintain their spiritual identity if not
by the fire of their religious faith, and at the same 
time by making this faith of the Old Testament more and
more universal or supra-historical, -- which would mean,
despite any intrinsic differences, a kind of rapprochment
with Christianity as to practical attitudes.  And this
very fact would, I think, involuntarily pave the way for
that final reintegration of Israel which will be the
plenitude both of Israel and the Church, and to the
abiding hope of Christianity, and which St. Paul viewed
as a miraculous splendor of the world.

                             With every kind regard,
                             Sincerely yours,
                             Jacques Maritain