PASSINGS: Avraham Shalom; Charles Barsotti; Eric Hill

PASSINGS: Avraham Shalom; Charles Barsotti; Eric Hill
Former Israeli Shin Bet chief Avraham Shalom is seen during a 2007 reunion of Israelis who were involved in the capture Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann. (Nir Keidar, AP)

 Avraham Shalom dies at 86; led the Israeli security service

Avraham Shalom, 86, a former director of Israel's Shin Bet security service who led the agency through some of its greatest achievements before resigning in disgrace, died Thursday in Tel Aviv. The Shin Bet did not give the cause.


Shalom directed the Shin Bet from 1980 to 1986, a turbulent period when Israel was coping with Palestinian militants and Jewish extremists, and was involved in a war in neighboring Lebanon.

But his career was derailed after the Shin Bet was accused of killing two Palestinian bus hijackers and then trying to cover up the affair. The scandal was detected after newspapers published photos of the two attackers being led away, still alive, from the hijacking.

The incident, which became known as the "Bus 300 affair," ultimately forced Shalom to resign two years later in 1986. He was later pardoned.

Shalom was born in 1928 in Vienna and immigrated to Tel Aviv in 1939. He joined what would become Israel's navy in 1946, two years before the country's independence, and was recruited to the Shin Bet in 1950.

During a two-year leave of absence from the internal security agency in the late 1950s, Shalom served as an officer and eventually headed the Mossad's Operations Division. He was part of the team that captured one of the most wanted Nazi leaders, Adolf Eichmann, in Argentina in 1960.

In 1972, Shalom was appointed commander of the Security Division following the Munich Olympics Massacre, which resulted in the death of 11 Israeli athletes and officials by Palestinian militants.

In this capacity, Shalom was in charge of the security for Israeli airlines, the secret service and Israeli embassies, including overseeing the security of official Israeli delegations traveling around the world, according to the Shin Bet.

During his time as head of the Shin Bet, Shalom cracked down on underground Israeli right-wing extremists, and eventually led the agency to thwart a plan to blow up the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Later in life, Shalom became a strong advocate for reaching peace with the Palestinians. He was among six former Shin Bet directors who gave rare, candid interviews about their actions and decisions in the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers" by Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh.

Charles Barsotti dies at 80;

Cartoons told the human condition

Charles Barsotti, 80, whose New Yorker cartoons plumbed the human condition featuring characters such as the psychiatrist dog and the pilgrim with the walking stick, died Monday at home in Kansas City, Mo., said his daughter, Kerry Scott. He was diagnosed in 2013 with brain cancer.

"He got the maximum out of the minimum," said Robert Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker magazine, which has published nearly 1,400 Barsotti cartoons since the 1960s. "With just a few lines he could delineate a hobo, a spy, a king, a philosopher, a dog, a judge, all those in the same picture."

Barsotti, born Sept. 28, 1933, in San Antonio, Texas, graduated from Texas State University in 1954 and worked for Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards as a greeting card artist before moving to New York to become cartoon editor for the Saturday Evening Post until that magazine closed. Barsotti and his family returned to Kansas City in the 1960s when Barsotti developed the "Sally Bananas" comic strip.


He freelanced cartoons for the New Yorker for several years before he became a staff cartoonist for magazine about 1970, while he and his family remained in Kansas City.

"You know, he drew cartoons about philosophy and kings, and I sort of think he was the philosopher king of cartoonists," Mankoff said. "Really. He asked the big questions. Why are we here? What should we do? In a very simple way which didn't come down on any sort of answers but says part of being human is just not ignoring these questions."

Mankoff pointed to the Barsotti cartoon showing St. Peter saying to "the guy in heaven who's ready to go in: `Really you were worried about that? You thought that was a sin too? You must have worried yourself to death."'

Barsotti's cartoons also appeared in other publications, including the Atlantic and the New York Times. Several collections of his work have been published, including most recently the 2007 book "They Moved My Bowl," which featured his dog cartoons.

Eric Hill dies at 86;

Author of popular children's books

Eric Hill, 86, whose effort to entertain his young son with a simple drawing of a mischievous dog named Spot blossomed into a popular series of children's books that have sold more than 60 million copies, died June 6 at his home in Templeton, Calif., after a short illness, said Adele Minchin, a spokeswoman for Hill's publisher, Penguin Children's Group.

Hill's first book, "Where's Spot?" — with its clean design, whimsical characters, and bold, bright colors — was an instant success with preschool children when it hit store shelves in 1980. It told the gentle tale of Spot's mother, Sally, as she goes on a search for him around the house — but finds a hippo, a lion and other creatures along the way.

But before his first triumph, Hill faced a number of rejections because so many publishers were wary of his use of paper flaps to hide parts of his illustrations — an innovation that was considered unusual at the time. In one case, for instance, a child could lift a flap in the shape of a door to reveal a grizzly bear gobbling up honey in the hallway.

"Familiar as we are today with a children's book market where flaps, pop-ups and all kinds of novelty and interactivity are taken for granted, it is hard to recall what an extraordinarily innovative concept this was in the late 1970s," Minchin said in a statement.

Eric Hill was born in Holloway, North London, England, on Sept. 7, 1927. His career in illustration began when he took a job as an errand boy at an illustration studio during World War II, which led to a position at an advertising agency.

While he was freelancing as a creative marketing designer in the late 1970s, he drew a picture of a puppy using his famous flap innovation, which fascinated his 3-year-old son, Christopher.

Hill was so pleased with his son's reaction to his work that he invented a story to go along with the item, and thus Spot the Dog was born.

"Where's Spot?" was followed by "Spot's First Walk," "Spot Goes to the Beach" and many others. There was also a short-lived animated series called "The Adventures of Spot."

Hill moved with his family to the United States in the 1980s.


Times wire services