Tuesday, May 22, 2012


There is an old saying….”they do not make them like that anymore.” David Littman, the beloved husband of my friend Bat Ye’or was unique in his devotion to the cause of the Jews in every corner of every continent. He was articulate, persuasive and unrelenting. Indeed, they just don’t make them like him anymore. What a loss. To my friend Gisele and his children I can only offer condolence and the comfort of good memories. We are in the debt of this great couple. I am honored to have known David and to continue my friendship with Bat Ye’or.
Rest in eternal peace David.
David G. Littman 1933 - 2012

We are saddened to report the passing today after a long illness of David Littman in Geneva, Switzerland. A funeral will be held in Geneva on Wednesday, May 23rd with interment at the Jewish Cemetery in adjacent Veyrier, France. A memorial in his honor will be held subsequently.
The following is an excerpt from his biography:

David Gerald Littman was born in London on 4 July 1933. He was an historian and a human rights activist at the United Nations (Geneva) from 1986. For several years he was main representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). In February 1992, he joined veteran human rights activist René Wadlow (editor of Transnational Perspectives), main representative of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), then the World Federalist Movement (WFM). Since 1997 he was affilliated with of the Association of World Citizens (AWC) and the Association for World Education (AWE), for whom Littman was accredited as representative.


Littman – the youngest son of Joseph Aaron Littman – graduated in 1951 from Canford School, Dorset where he excelled more in sports than studies. A preference for history brought him to Trinity College Dublin where he earned a "Moderatores" (B.A. with honors) and an M.A. in Modern History and Political Science. From mid-October 1955, he toured historical and archaeological sites in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel, returning to London in late March 1956. While preparing for a family business career, he decided on postgraduate studies at London University's Institute of Archaeology, as one of two students under Kathleen Kenyon, director of the famed Jericho excavations, and Max Mallowan, head of Mesopotamian archaeology. Among other sites, he excavated at Hazor (Galilee) under Professor Yigal Yadin in the summer 1958.

In September 1959 he married Gisèle Orebi, a Cairo-born, French speaking fellow student known by her nom de plume, Bat Ye’or, who had been forced to flee Egypt in 1957 as a stateless refugee. The next year they moved to Lausanne, Switzerland. Soon after the birth of their first child, he volunteered for a delicate humanitarian mission in Morocco. From 15 March to July 24, 1961, accompanied by his wife as secretary – and their baby daughter Diana – he ran the Casablanca office of the Geneva-based international NGO for children OSE. After returning to Geneva he continued university studies, but finally abandoned all thoughts of an archaeological career in 1963 to devote more time to the family business. Two more children were born to the Littmans in 1962 and 1964.
David Littman's own own body of work was impressive, as was his activism. He facilitated the early covert migration of Jewish children from Morocco to Israel in the early 1960’s known as Operation Mural for which he was to receive the “Hero of Silence” award, the highest intelligence honor from a grateful State of Israel in 2009. That exploit was the subject of a film, Operation Mural Casablanca 1961 premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival in 2007.
During the past few years several articles by David Littman were published in the New English Review.
Upon hearing of Littman’s passing we wrote Bat Ye’or:
We received word on David's passing today after a valiant fight. He had great courage and you were unstinting to attend to his needs. He was a loving and courageous husband who shared your causes and interests. He was a magnificent defender of human rights for fellow Jews, Christians and others at the UN Human Rights Council and other public forums.
We were pleased to have known him as a colleague in the fight against Islamic Jihad and for Israel's rightful place in the world at large.
His activism with your assistance and support enabled a great life saving migration of Moroccan Jewish children to Eretz Yisroel for which he received the highest honor and praise from the State of Israel.
His research, writings, speeches, and published body of work have the mark of scholarship with impeccable Churchillian turns of phrase.
He was a life partner in assisting your path breaking scholarship in dhimmitude, Eurabia and the rising Caliphate of fundamentalist Islam seeking to conquer the West through a Grand Jihad.
He was a boon companion and raconteur during our encounters and engagements here in America.
He was perhaps the most illustrious Jewish scholar athlete to have graduated from Trinity College, Dublin.
Our deepest rachmonis and condolences to you, your daughters and grandchildren.
We deeply miss our friend and colleague, David Littman, z"l (of blessed memory).
Watch this excerpt from the film Operation Mural Casablanca 1961 with the late David Littman:
To honor the passing of David Littman we are re-publishing a post on “The Oeuvre of David Littman”, authored by Guy Milliere:
The Oeuvre of David Littman
by Guy Milliere
Translated and edited from the French and published April 1, 2012 in Dreuz.info.
David Littman, a man I deeply value is afflicted with a dread disease. I promised a long article on his work, and it is the least we can do, really the least because his work, in every sense of the term, is important. I owe him much. We owe so much more to him than we can imagine.

He stayed for years, out of modesty, in the shadow of his wife, the great talented Islamic scholar Bat Ye'or. But he has accomplished much on his own.

As a humanitarian, he has with immense courage, risked his life, helping Jews facing very difficult situations to escape, survive, and achieve freedom and dignity. He led an organization called Work to Save the Children in North Africa and the legendary Operation Mural the subject of a film by Yehuda Kaveh, released in 2007.
He founded with his wife, the Center for Information and Documentation on the Middle East in Geneva in 1970. He acted tirelessly, with enthusiasm, tenacity and intelligence given every opportunity, to address the worst monstrosities emanating from a grotesque institution, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. since replaced by the equally grotesque United Nations Council for Human Rights.

He has written several monographs on the situation of Jews and Christians in the Muslim world. Among these is "The Truth About the Mideast; Fourteen Fundamental Facts about Israel and Palestine," published in 2002 in the National Review in the U.S. Ten years later, he has lost none of his incisiveness. He edited with Yehoshafat Harkabi a book of inestimable value, Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel a critical analysis of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research on the subject (1971), recently republished (4th ed. 2011).

He has published, with Paul Fenton, a book called Islam. This is one of the major references on the subject. It speaks so scrupulously and detailed about the "legal and social status of Jews in Islamic Maghreb between the Middle Ages and the era of French colonization." It contains translated excerpts and annotated historical chronicles in Arabic and Hebrew, Muslim theological texts, eyewitness accounts written by European travelers - prisoners, diplomats, doctors, clerics, and adventurers. This is the kind of book you read and to which you constantly return when you need details and accurate sources.

It is, above all, a work that constitutes a final and conclusive answer to the legend so widespread of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence between Jews and Muslims in Islamic lands. Page after page is a succession of damning stories of harassment, humiliation, and violence.

We understand, through the text, why the arrival of France in North Africa was seen as their deliverance by the Jewish communities.

It is understood that the subjugation of Jews in the lands of Islam and Muslim Antisemitism have a deeply rooted existence.

We better understand the Muslim anti-Semitism as it exists today and how it has spread in Europe with the consequences we have seen.

For this book alone David Littman has made more than a contribution to history: a crucial and indispensable tool for those who struggle against the lies and for the dignity of human beings. He is to be thanked. We hope he finds in these words my personal thanks and the testimony of my gratitude.

No comments: