The following is an excerpt from his biography:
EDUCATION AND BACKGROUND
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.
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:
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 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.