Vernacular Politics in New Participatory Media: Discursive Linkage Between Biometrics and the Holocaust in Israel

Avi Marciano


In 2017, after vociferous public debate and strong opposition, Israel ratified a law sanctioning establishment of a mandatory biometric database. This study examines online vernacular texts that address this initiative through Holocaust imageries in four participatory platforms: Facebook, Twitter, user comments to journalistic items, and open forums (N = 272). Applying discourse analysis to these texts, it asks (1) how participants construct Israel’s Biometric Project and how the narratives promoted thereby coalesce into a larger story about the country’s surveillance; (2) how this construction shapes the public status of the Holocaust in Israel; and (3) whether and how new media affordances support and encourage these processes. The article corresponds with perspectives that are alternative to the traditional model of the public sphere. Drawing on the concepts of vernacular creativity and cultural citizenship, it conceptualizes the discursive merger of biometrics and the Holocaust as online vernacular politics that attests to civic engagement.


biometrics, participatory media, public sphere, civic engagement, vernacular rhetoric, discourse analysis, holocaust

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