Haaretz reported that the information was “leaked from the inner circle of the leader of the Lithuanian sect, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, ostensibly documents private conversations involving the rabbi’s associates – but not him, personally.”
Dubbed the “Haredi WikiLeaks,” the information reveals that Shteinman’s loyal followers have been holding talks with Brig. Gen. Gadi Agmon, head of planning at the IDF Manpower Directorate., according to Haaretz. In addition, the leaks indicate that the Haredim have been in contact with MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), who is chairwoman of the special Knesset committee charged with drafting the bill regarding Haredi men doing either military or civilian national service.
According to Haaretz: “The leaks show that leading elements in the Haredi community have apparently drawn up a pragmatic strategy to deal with the issue, and have withdrawn their sweeping opposition to the drafting of these young men. However, the leaked information is now being used against Shteinman by rivals in that community.”
The discussions appear to have been leaked by one of the participants, who Haaretz says shared them discussions with a small group of people.
“In one conversation,” Haaretz reported, “an associate of Shteinman’s is heard praising Shaked’s willingness to cooperate with the ultra-Orthodox, saying that she has displayed the fairness and integrity of a pilot, noting that her husband is a former fighter pilot. He seems to be hinting that Shaked would want the ultra-Orthodox to come into the coalition instead of Yesh Atid.”
Other information that was leaked and reached Haaretz documents a discussion of the proposed legislation that was held in December, ahead of a convention of rabbis of the Degel Hatorah party, which is affiliated with the Lithuanian Haredi stream. The outcome of the convention was publication of a series of strong anti-draft statements, among them a declaration that the rabbis “would stand like a fortified wall against any attempts and enticements.”
According to Haaretz, there is a backstory to what triggered these leaks. This appears to be an alleged rivalry between the followers of Shteinman and loyalists to Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, both from the Lithuanian community.
“While the latter preaches that yeshiva students should not even appear at the induction center – even to arrange a proper deferment because of their religious status – Shteinman has more or less continued to say that it’s necessary to cooperate with the IDF. However, Shteinman has hardened his stance over the years to some degree; for example, he revoked the permission he gave to his representatives to sit on the Tal Committee, which formulated previous legislation on drafting Haredim,” according to Haaretz.
It appears the information was leaked in an attempt to undermine Shteinman and portray him as a conceder.