British-born historian and human rights activist David Littman, 78, passed away Sunday in his hometown of Gland, Switzerland. Littman posed as a Christian in 1961 to rescue 530 Moroccan Jewish children during a time when Jews were not freely allowed to leave.
It was Littman who negotiated to permit the children to travel to Switzerland on vacation – and from there, the children were transported to Israel, with Littman joining the final group, where they were later joined by the rest of their families a few years later.
At the time, he ran the Casablanca office of the Geneva-based international NGO for children, Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants de l'Afrique du Nord (OSSEAN). “Mural” was his personal code name, hence the name of the operation, “Operation Mural.”
The operation was organized and run by Israel's international Mossad intelligence agency. But to maintain its top secret status, Littman was told he was actually working for the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The story was eventually revealed in 1984 in an article in a Hebrew-language newspaper in Israel.
In 1986, Littman was reunited with the children he had rescued, on the 25th anniversary of the operation. In 2007, the film “Operation Mural Casablanca 1961” describing operation premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival. Two years later, Littman was presented with the “Hero of Silence” award for his service during that operation by the government of Israel.
It was not only as an international negotiator and child smuggler that Littman was active, however. The historian also supported the research of his Cairo-born wife, Gisele Orebi (Bat Ye'or), on dhimmitude, Eurabia and the rising Caliphate of jihadist Islam.
Orebi herself fled Egypt in 1957. A bare few years later, she brought their baby Diana to accompany her husband as he entered Morocco to rescue Jewish children from another Arab regime.
For years Littman served as the main representative at the United Nations for the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). From 1997, he was affiliated with the Association of World Citizens (AWC) and the Association for World Education (AWE).
A financier, writer, and historian, he held a degree from London's Institute of Archaeology and excavated Hazor in the Galilee under Professor Yigal Yadin in the summer of 1958.