I never heard of David Littman before I started to learn about human rights, and then as it connects to Israel and an international "cooperation" that holds the only Jewish state to a standard of perfection different from any other state. This phenomenon is seen best at the United Nations, and particularly the Human Rights Council. Littman served as representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Geneva, where the HRC meets. I first saw him excoriate the HRC in no uncertain terms for hypocrisy in promoting political rather than humanitarian concerns. Here is an illustration:
He spoke out repeatedly and appropriately, and here he explained his recent activities promoting human rights at the HRC:
I learned what an extraordinary life this man lived. That his wife, Gisele, writes under the pen name Bat Ye'or about the status of Jews and Christians in Muslim lands and authored Eurabia. How many that condemn this book have read it?
I learned later that in 1961 he helped rescue of 530 Moroccan-Jewish children in a secret Mossad mission, posing as a tennis-playing, Christian English
gentleman living with his wife and baby in Casablanca. The details of "Operation Mural" only came to light when a documentary was made in 1986.
For his service, Littman was conferred the "Hero of Silence" Order by the Israeli government in 2009.
To me, Littman defines what it means to be a liberal Zionist. This liberal is not opposed to the nation state because it is the mechanism for which self-determination and human rights are most optimally obtained by peoples and individuals. This liberal speaks against violations of human rights by using a single 21st Century standard of universality as a point of departure, based on principles of individual liberty and dignity that states and non-state entities must respect, protect and fulfill, free from discrimination. Rights do not include freedom not to be insulted, or protection of ideology, or freedom to destroy the system on which the rights are secured. This liberal believes that the worst violations that involve the most people and suffering deserve the spotlight of action and attention. There are limited resources overall for implement and enhance human rights protection.
Littman knew all this only too well. The world is less because he represents too few, and this post is, among many, a small testament to his accomplishments to better humankind.
I hope you will take the opportunity to learn more about this champion of human rights for all, but especially those most vulnerable with the least voice.