The place – Lausanne (Switzerland). The time – early 1961. David Gerald Littman, a young British-born Jew, reads William Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and wonders: “What could a Jew, living in neutral countries like Sweden or Switzerland during World War II, have done to help Jews?” And the question quickly leads to another: “What can I do for Jews in distress right now?” Littman knew about the plight of the Jews in Egypt through his wife Giselle, who fled the country with her parents (in 1957, a year after the Suez War) in the wake of the Free Officers’ Revolt.
He started knocking on the doors of International Jewish humanitarian organizations in Geneva, offering to help in any way. No one pays attention to the strapping young man, until he comes to OSE-Swiss. The director of that relief organization for Jewish children, Prof. Jacques Bloch, introduces Littman to Naftali Bar-Giora of the Jewish Agency, who had approached Bloch a few days earlier for help in bringing out Jewish children from Morocco. Littman did not yet know that the Agency was working on that operation with Isser Harel’s Mossad, and that he was entering the world of clandestine activity. Operation Mural commences.
David with Gisèle and Diana Littman - Casablanca (June 22, 1961)
The place – Morocco. The time – March 1961, two months after the illegal immigrant ship Egoz had capsized [with the loss of 44 Moroccan Jews, half of them children]. The gates of immigration from Morocco are closed. David and Gisèle Littman arrive in Casablanca [on 16th and 31st March, respectively] as Christians, and later David brings over their infant daughter Diana, aged 5 months. Their cover – ‘Gerald’ is an emissary of the newly created international children’s welfare organization, OSSEAN [Oeuvre Suisse de Secours aux Enfants de l’Afrique du Nord]. They stay at the city’s prime hotel [the Anfa Hotel, where Roosevelt and Churchill lodged in January 1943 for the Casablanca Conference], and David begins to substantiate his cover by forging a web of social relationships and contacts with key people in government circles, among others a senior official in one of Morocco’s security services.
At the same time, he has clandestine meetings with Mossad emissaries Alex Gatmon [only the night before his 24th July departure], Gad Shahar and Pinhas Katzir, as well as with members of the “framework” – young Jews recruited to help their community to immigrate to Israel. The aim: obtaining government authorization for Moroccan children, both Jewish, [Christian] and Muslim, to attend a summer camp in Switzerland. David begins drawing up lists so that he can get the children collective group passports, a stratagem he adopted after learning that the Moroccan authorities preferred not issuing the children individual passports. The “framework” members prepare lists of Jewish children for him. The authorities agree with David to prepare a list of Muslim children from the families of Martyrs of the Moroccan independence.
Between June 26 and July 24, 1961, 530 Jewish children, the youngest of them seven, leave for Switzerland in five convoys [with ‘collective passports’] and from there on to Israel. David Littman accompanies the last flight [his wife having left with Diana two days before].Operation Mural is successfully concluded.
The place – Israel: the Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center. The time – July 1, 2009, three days before David Littman’s 76th birthday and he is about to receive the citation: ‘Hero of Silence’ Order ["An order of highest esteem and appreciation, awarded to David Gerald Littman: A clandestine warrior, who risked his life and who served a sacred cause of the People and of the State of Israel"]. The award is given by the Israel Intelligence and Commemoration Center and Intelligence Community to those, Jews and non-Jews alike, who volunteered, without pay, to work on secret missions for the State of Israel, at times risking their freedom and even lives. David is the ninth recipient of the award. Among those in attendance were his wife Gisèle, a well-know scholar of the Jews of Egypt [and Jews and Christians under Islam - dhimmitude - and of a future “Eurabia”], under the pen name Bat Ye’or, his daughter Ariane and her family, other relatives, representatives of “the children,” past and present members of the Mossad and members of the Israel Intelligence Commemoration Center [over 200].
Colonel (Res.) Yossi Daskal read out the considerations of the prize committee, leading to its acceptance of the recommendation of the Mossad to bestow the award on David Littman [‘Mural’]: “Mr. Littman volunteered, at his own initiative to aid in bringing Jewish children from Morocco to Israel in 1961. He did so at risk to his life and to his family, with courage, with much resourcefulness, and without any compensation.”
Read article in full
Operation Mural - the film