A new chapter has been opened in the struggle for public opinion among the haredi community, with the publication of Israel’s newest daily newspaper, HaPeles, on Friday.

Following the recent power struggle over the influential Yated Ne’eman haredi daily, HaPeles was published on Friday to compete for the ear of the target audience, members of the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” haredi community.

Last month, a veritable coup was staged within Yated Ne’eman, in which both the managing director and editor-in-chief of 27 years were ousted by means of internal maneuvering.

Wealthy American haredi businessman Shimon Glick was appointed chairman of the board of directors by the paper’s publishing company, Yatedot – followed swiftly by the firing of editor-in-chief Rabbi Nati Grossman and director Rabbi Yaakov Labin.

Both of those fired were appointed by the newspaper’s founder, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, the revered leader of non-hassidic haredi Jewry for many years before his death in 2001, and the founder of the Degel Hatorah ultra-Orthodox political faction that represent the Lithuanian community.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Labin, who founded the new paper, said he is confident HaPeles can obtain the level of influence enjoyed by the more established publication.

“The importance of this newspaper is that it is [run by those] those who were appointed by Rav Shach to establish a daily publication [for the Lithuanian world] – who created it,” Labin said.

“Having been removed from Yated Ne’eman, there was no option but to establish a new newspaper to continue Rav Shach’s path.”

HaPeles, whose editor-inchief is Grossman, means straight or level, which Labin says reflects the desire to present straight and direct opinions and perspectives on the haredi world.

The upheaval at Yated Ne’eman, the most important paper in the haredi world, occurred as a result of a broader struggle for the leadership of the community – in light of the continued hospitalization and incapacitation of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, 102, the undisputed leader of non-hassidic haredim until now.

Glick is a close associate of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, 98, who is widely acknowledged to have succeeded Elyashiv as the new leader of the community, over the head of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.

Auerbach, 86 and based in Jerusalem, was closer to Elyashiv than Shteinman and was seemingly being groomed for the leadership. However, it is the elder rabbi who has emerged as the supreme authority within the Lithuanian world, aided by the takeover of Yated Ne’eman by his man Shimon Glick.

In response to the takeover, members of the paper’s old guard established HaPeles as a rival to their old newspaper.

According to Labin, Rabbi Auerbach will be the principle spiritual guide for HaPeles and the editorial board will be looking to him for direction regarding the new paper’s stance on current affairs.

Asked whether the paper would adopt positions opposing Rabbi Shteinman, Labin said that at present there are no differences of opinion between the two rabbis, but should Rabbi Auerbach take a stance with which Shteinman is not in agreement, the paper would certainly take Auerbach’s line.

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