In recent years Israel's roads have become a public, open, and permanent sphere for discursive political dialogues, publicly displayed in the iconic medium of bumper stickers which give voice to strong feelings of identification and conflict. The private car has become a site through which a complex communication of schism and unity is conducted, using key terms of Jewish and Israeli identity. The present article focuses on expressions of identity and boundaries of "the people," or "the nation" articulated in this popular discourse, by examining a variety of bumper stickers incorporating the term העם (haʿam). Analysis of the rhetoric of this discourse reveals five major organizing axes: somatic rhetoric; familial rhetoric; historical rhetoric; rhetoric of loyalty and betrayal; rhetoric of inclusion and exclusion. The plethora of variants of the concept עם (ʿam) in the sticker discourse emphasizes the popular voice that this discourse aims to represent. At the same time, the popular and creative play on concepts of identity, which are perceived as traditional and hallowed, in such a contemporary and ephemeral discourse, produces a powerful tension between these concepts and the political and social conflicts to which the discourse refers.


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pp. 197-234
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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