I was in Israel just about the same time as you. the Kibbutz up near the Golan which I was at had free internet, but I could find no free internet near the Dead Sea. Jerusalem, on Ben-Yahuda street (the big street mall) I could get free internet no problem, but not at my hotel. Out in Tel-Aviv, I was able to get some free from a coffee house across the street from my hotel (and yes I could connect from my room to that SSID). Considering I had heard the same things that you had heard about Internet in Israel, I was disappointed.
Oh, and it didn't matter whether I was trying with my iPad or netbook. Actually, the netbook (running Ubuntu 11.04) was better than the iPad at getting wireless, at least for me.
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