consumer products are banned
consumer products are bannedצילום: ISTOCK

With the ever growing list of consumer products throughout the world, it may come as a surprise that quite a few popular products and services are banned within Israel. This article delves deeper into this subject matter, providing a few examples and reasons why certain consumer items might be prohibited.

What is a consumer product?

Consumer products are products that are bought by individuals for personal use. They intend to satisfy current desires or needs and include everyday products such as a bicycle, a refrigerator or a handbag.

Cconsumer products are not necessarily just physical products, but also digital services such as the streaming services Netflix and Disney+ or an online fitness subscription to name a few - although these may be available via VPN.

What types of consumer products are banned in Israel?

There are however popular products in countries such as the US and UK that are prohibited within Israel. Examples include:

Juul vaping - The Israeli government banned the import and sale of Juul e-cigarettes in 2018, citing public health concerns given their significant nicotine content at a concentration higher than 20 milligrams per milliliter.

Whilst the vaping device has transformed the e-cigarette market in countries such as the US, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed the advice of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and the recommendations of Health Ministry officials who have warned that the product was too new to allow reliable research on its longer-term effects.

Gambling - Israeli Penal Law 5737–1977 has placed a general ban on gambling activity. This includes many forms of betting, lotteries and games of chance. Services which support gambling, such as venues where gaming activity takes place, are also banned. This is largely because gambling had been deemed more of a bad influence on society than a positive force, encouraging addictive activities.

The Israeli government does however allow citizens to play their National Lottery. Likewise, sports betting is allowed under the Israel Sports Betting Board (ISBB) who hold a monopoly on land-based and online sports betting within the country. It is therefore illegal for any other companies to operate a sportsbook business within Israel.

Casinos - Unsurprisingly, since gambling is not permitted, traditional casino games are also forbidden. Whilst there are dedicated cruise ships which can be found docked at the bigger port cities in Israel offering casino activities, overall it is not an easily accessible activity to partake in.

However, whilst it’s illegal to gamble in a bricks-and-mortar casino or with an online provider in Israel, a thriving underground gambling sector has appeared over recent years which is said to be worth over $3.5 billion per annum. Games such as Blackjack, Roulette and Baccarat are reportedly enjoyed via online foreign casinos.

Whilst the Israeli government tries to prevent citizens from gaining access to foreign operated online casinos, their filtering hasn’t been wholly effective in detecting Israeli gamblers. Many foreign gambling websites even have Hebrew language options to make it more accessible to Israeli players!

High cost loans - High cost loans are banned due to both religious and social reasons. With a high proportion of Israelis being Jewish or Muslim, financial products such as online payday loans are discouraged since Jewish law prevents Jews from borrowing, lending or being involved in a transaction that charges interest to Jews and similarly Islamic teachings state that Muslims are not allowed to benefit from lending or receiving money from someone. High rates of interest can also cause people into a spiral of debt which is not something that the Israeli government wishes to encourage.

Israel’s lending interest rate was reported at 3.3989% in 2020, and there are charitable organizations such as the Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) which provides over 300 interest free loans every month to large families, single-parents, families with handicapped children, new immigrants, students, adoptive couples and small businesses. The IFLA also offers general and emergency loans, and has provided over $200 million to over 54,000 people.