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ISRAEL: Israel's ban of the iPad flaps on

April 18, 2010 |  8:56 am

Israel's Ministry of Communications has banned import of iPads on the grounds that they are not compatible with the country's Wi-Fi standards. The device isn't sold in Israel commercially yet.

Few were aware of any problem until the media reported that iPads were being held up at customs at the instruction of the Ministry of Communications until they were declared compatible with Israeli standards. Until the tablets are officially commercially imported, Israeli officials say, responsibility for ensuring that personally imported items of any kind are compatible with Israeli standards resides with customers, who wouldn't, for example, bring home a British right-hand-drive car for use on Israel's lefty roads.

Not everyone is convinced. Attorney Aviv Eilon maintains on the Hebrew website Ynet that the iPad meets European standards approved by Israel's communications ministry and that previously approved Apple devices use the same Wi-Fi technology. All this information is only one click away into the various specs lists, he said: "It seems someone in the communications ministry didn't do their homework." He dismissed the car comparison as "demagoguery."

Some were concerned that the ban, widely reported by international media, was damaging Israel's image. Legislator Robert Ilatov, of the Knesset's high-tech lobby, sent the communications minister a letter asking the ministry to soften its position on the matter. And if the problem is that the device's frequencies might interfere with those used by the Israeli army, according to the financial publication Calcalist (in Hebrew), Ilatov said the army could give up those frequencies. Other legislators have brought it up too.  

Presumably, all this will be sorted out in coming weeks, and before long, the iPad too will be koshered for Israel. Meanwhile, some folks out there are having a pretty good laugh about it, especially the guys at the Atlantic Wire

Max Fisher wrote that "with Israel staring down the threat of war from scud-armed Hezbollah, Steve Jobs is probably not the largest concern this week."  (It's unclear whether Hezbollah got those scuds.) Jeffrey Goldberg of the same Wire said Fisher was wrong. "But I've always been under the impression that Steve Jobs is more dangerous than Hezbollah," he wrote.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

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