Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Rescuer of 530 Jewish children recognised at last

It was the stuff of James Bond novels, and had his secret and daring mission gone wrong, it could have landed David Littman in jail. It took over 40 years before Littman received any public recognition for what he did. In July 2009, Littman was awarded the order of the Hero of Silence for leading a Mossad operation, Operation Mural, to rescue 530 children from Morocco. The New English Review has the full story (with thanks: Frank):

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


Anonymous said...

Never heard the term "eurabia" before. according to wikipedia:

The Economist has described the concept of Eurabia as scaremongering.[30]
Matt Carr has written, in the July issue of the Race & Class (A Journal on Racism, Empire and Globalisation) [8] that What began as an outlandish conspiracy theory has become a dangerous Islamophobic fantasy...[31]
Justin Vaisse says the book intends to debunk "four myths of the alarmist school." Using Muslims in France as an example, he says:
The Muslim population is not growing as fast as the scenario claims, since the fertility rate of immigrants declines[32]
Muslims are not a monolithic or cohesive group[33]
Muslims do seek to integrate politically and socially
Despite their numbers, Muslims have little influence on foreign policy (e.g. policy toward Israel)[34]
The theory of Eurabia has been compared to antisemitic writings by left-wing British journalist Johann Hari calls the two "startlingly similar" and says that "there are intellectuals on the British right who are propagating a conspiracy theory about Muslims that teeters very close to being a 21st century Protocols of the Elders of Zion."[35]


bataween said...

Hello bh
You don't have to agree with everything Bat Yeor has written. I'm not surprised that Johann Hari doesn't approve!
Bat Yeor's real achievmeent is her research and books on the 'dhimmi'. It is for this, not 'Eurabia', that she will be remembered, in my opinion.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

The Economist is supposed to belong to an Arab. So, is it any wonder that it offers such an opinion on Bat Yeors book??

Can bh deny that the personal security of Jews in several Western European countries --especially UK, France, Belgium-- has declined in recent years [especially since 9/2000] and that this is due to a great extent to the hostility of Muslims in those European countries, much incited against Jews by the local European media [France2, BBC, Guardian, Independent, etc]??

Anonymous said...

bataween - ofcourse, point taken


"The Economist is supposed to belong to an Arab. So, is it any wonder that it offers such an opinion on Bat Yeors book"

I'm sorry but if someone wrote that "The Times is supposed to be owned by a Jew" would that not be considered anti-Semitic?

The Times is owned by News International aka Rupert Murdoch who is not Jewish, and according to the Economist website, the Economist " Since 1928, half the shares have been owned by the Financial Times, a subsidiary of Pearson, the other half by a group of independent shareholders, including many members of the staff. The editor's independence is guaranteed by the existence of a board of trustees, which formally appoints him and without whose permission he cannot be removed."

There is more info on this here:

I don't deny that anti-semitic incidents have increased in France in recent years, i'm not sure about the UK, as a UK resident and resident of a city with a large Jewish community I know of course there are anti-semitic incidence but whether they have sharply increased, I am not sure. Anti-Semitic attacks are certainly are lower over all than at anytime in recent history. Most Anti-semitic attacks in the UK are by "White" people rather than "Muslims" as you claim - these are CST's own figures although I can't remember where I read them.

The Guardian and the BBC are highly critical of Israel, sometimes I agree they cross the line but that doesn't make them anti-semitic any more than criticising the Egyptian government as we often do on this website makes one Islamophobic.


bataween said...

Dear bh
Antisemitic incidents in the UK are at an all-time high according to the CST site: "CST recorded 609 antisemitic incidents
in the first six months of 2009. This is more than the 544 incidents recorded by CST during
the whole of 2008. CST has never before recorded more than 600 antisemitic incidents
in a calendar year." where they were identifiable 52 percent of the perpetrators were Asian/ Arab.
The ethnicity/ religion of the proprietor of a news media is irrelevant, Ia gree - but like many other media the Economist reflects a 'zeitgeist' of moral equivalence, at best, in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Anonymous said...

bataween thanks - the info I was referencing was from last year or the year before.