An Aussie discharged from the IDF

September 7, 2012 by Benjamin Rutland
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Two days ago, after six years of service, I was honourably discharged from the IDF. I have now returned to being a civilian…writes Benjamin Rutland.

Benjy Rutland

All my life I had dreamed of serving in the IDF, but the truth is that after years of watching critical media coverage, I wasn’t sure what I would find once I enlisted. Today, I can honestly say that I am proud of my service. During that time I met a range of incredible people: The attack helicopter pilot who is also a doctor and volunteers for the Save a Heart foundation – saving Palestinian babies by day, attacking terrorists by night; the first Ethiopian Battalion Commander who overcame incredible odds to reach his position, yet talked emotionally about trying to make life easier for Palestinians; or the young American immigrant paratrooper who was wounded during the Second Lebanon War but for two days refused to leave his comrades and be evacuated “I could still shoot with one arm”, amongst many others.

In my own way I hope that I made a small impact. It was certainly interesting. I started my service in the IDF Spokesperson unit during the Second Lebanon War, had the dubious distinction of being quoted four times in the Goldstone Report, and the chutzpah to correct the Vice Prime Minister Ya’alon (and former Chief of Staff) during a helicopter briefing with a very senior foreign politician. In addition to IDF personnel, I worked with many fine officers from other armed forces. While the media might be critical of Israel, the vast majority of foreign military officers understand the challenges Israel faces because they have faced the same ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, many think that we act with admirable (and even stupid) restraint.

For the last six years being an IDF officer has been a part of my identity, part of who I am. Yesterday I started work as the foreign press spokesperson for the Jewish Agency. In the morning, as I button up my shirt, it is strange not to have a beret on my shoulder and dog tags around my neck. While I will continue to be a reserve officer, it is not quite the same. Leaving work yesterday, I saw three career officers in the parking lot. I automatically checked their unit tags to see if I might know them, then realized with a twinge of sadness, that I was no longer one of them.

To all those guarding our borders or sitting in ops rooms, making sure we can sleep safe tonight, I salute you.


Benjy Rutland just completed six years service as an officer in the IDF. He served in the IDF spokesperson’s unit and the Strategic division.


3 Responses to “An Aussie discharged from the IDF”
  1. Kol Hakavod! Behatzlacha!

  2. Bengy, we salute you !

    B’ Hatzlacha in you new career.

    Shana Tova,

    Maxine and Morrie.

  3. Rachael says:

    Good story, I’m sure Ben will make a great contribution to the klal, like his mother!

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