This article develops a critique of the monopoly of liberal ideology in the field of human rights by considering how law, morality and politics are related to each other. The author argues that the constructive potential of international human rights law does not lie in its being understood and practiced as a positive law. On the contrary, to focus on human rights law as positive law is to conceal the political nature of human rights and to prevent effective development of its moral and political potential. Further, the author considers the case of Sharia law and argues that Sharia, for it to be implemented concretely in the social, political, and legal spheres, must be understood as a moral and religious ‘way’. These interpretations of human rights law and Sharia are used as the basis for a critique of the idea that human rights law and Sharia contradict each other.
In response to the grim realities of the present world Jewish thought has not tended to retreat into eschatological fantasy, but rather to project utopian visions precisely on to the present moment, envisioning redemptions that are concrete, immanent, and necessarily political in nature. In difficult times and through shifting historical contexts, the messianic hope in the Jewish tradition has functioned as a political vision: the dream of a peaceful kingdom, of a country to return to, or of a leader who will administer justice among the nations. Against this background, it is unsurprising that Jewish messianism in modern times has been transposed, and lives on in secular political movements and ideologies.
The purpose of this book is to contribute to the deeper understanding of the relationship between Jewish thought, utopia, and revolution, by taking a fresh look at its historical and religious roots. We approach the issue from several perspectives, with differences of opinion presented both in regard to what Jewish tradition is, and how to regard utopia and revolution. These notions are multifaceted, comprising aspects such as political messianism, religious renewal, Zionism, and different forms of Marxist and Anarchistic movements.