Ariel Bolstein, Israel Hayom
Although the massive forest fire in Cyprus has barely made headlines, Israeli leaders have been quick to lend a hand. At the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, firefighting planes were sent to the nearby island last week and additional crews were sent later on because the fire wouldn't die out.
Israelis often ask, "Why do we always help other countries in need? Why should we make this effort when we have so many unsolved problems of our own? And what's in it for us?"
Israel has indeed excelled in relief efforts over the years. Anywhere disaster strikes -- be it in Turkey or in Haiti -- Israel is the first to offer help. This includes earthquakes and other natural disasters, but also terrorist attacks. Both the rapidness of the Israeli response and its scope are unique. The aid it sends dots the globe and often surpasses that sent by superpowers. That is just amazing in and of itself.
This generous Israeli posture serves an important moral cause, but it also helps Israel's public diplomacy efforts and overall image. In many cases, countries that receive Israeli aid during times of crisis are more receptive to Israeli requests later on. While Israeli aid may not make them storm the barricades on our behalf, it does help Israel get what it wants behind the scenes. Israeli relief efforts may not solve every problem, but they do have the capacity to open new doors and change things for the better.
This is all the more true in the case of Cyprus. The two nations share a striking resemblance, from geography and climate (no wonder fires start in both countries), and in strategic challenges that have led to an alliance and perhaps even a shared fate. ...