Israel's iPad Ban Sparks Media Circus Among Foreign Press

Apple indicates Communications Ministry is lying when it claims iPad doesn't meet European standards.

Nearly a week since the Communications Ministry announced it was banning Apple's new tablet computer - the iPad - until further notice, technology lovers are still up in arms. Meanwhile, the ministry announced that customs authorities at Ben-Gurion International Airport have so far confiscated 20 of the devices.

The ministry has claimed that the iPad is being banned because it doesn't meet European standards for wireless Internet devices. But in spite of all the clarifications and explanations offered, it seems quite a bit is being kept secret.

The Communications Ministry's belated announcement on Apple's latest gadget has launched a media circus in the foreign press.

"There's got to be more to this than that. Though what it is I don't know," wrote Jeff Goldberg for the Atlantic, in response to the announcement that the device was being banned because its wireless technology was not compatible with Israeli standards.

"Israel has raised eyebrows by picking a fight with Apple, one of the most influential and admired U.S. companies," wrote the Atlantic's Max Fisher. "But with Israel staring down the threat of war from Scud-armed Hezbollah, Steve Jobs is probably not the largest concern this week."

"If you're reading this on your iPad while waiting for a flight to Israel, we're sorry to tell you this, but you're in for a nasty surprise," Stevie Smith of the Tech Herald wrote. "And, this isn't a belated April Fool's prank either (more's the pity)," he added, in response to the astonishment the move has raised.

Technorati ran a piece with the headline "Israel to Apple: We'll stick to stone tablets for now," noting that the more modern version was not wanted here. "The country that first popularized the stone tablet is preventing immigration of iPads bought in the United States, telling travelers they will need to store them at customs or ship them home," wrote Leslie Grandy.

Consumers whose iPads have been confiscated by customs officials have two options: To wait until the ministry changes its mind, or to send their iPads back to the United States and buy new ones when Apple launches the product internationally. Those who decide to wait will be charged a NIS 15 storage fee for every day their iPad is kept impounded, a tax authority official said.

Communications Ministry Director General Eden Bar Tal said that before the ban was announced, his staff had been unable to obtain technical information about the device from Apple's Israeli importer, iDigital.

However, the specifications published by Apple indicate that the iPad meets both European and American standards.

iDigital refused to comment.