"Yemenites walk around with a cloud of pungent odor that lets people know they're coming from five feet away. This is also true in winter," wrote the strictly Orthodox Yated Ne'eman newspaper this week. The reason cited by the paper for this "phenomenon" is the frequent use of the fenugreek spice in traditional Yemenite cuisine.
The article, penned by nutritionist Yael Kariv, focused on the recent heat wave as it related to sweat, and the connection between perspiration and diet.
Social activist Haim Ezer and spice merchant Sagiv Mahfud – both of Yemenite heritage - were angered by the article and filed a lawsuit demanding the paper publish an apology and pay them $11,500 compensation.
"The characterization of the Yemenite sector through the smell of their sweat and the crass words used to describe that scent are outrageous and stain an entire, honorable community. The publication humiliated the sector and made them the target of scorn and ridicule, it did so because of the color of their skin, their race and ethnicity and it has damaged their reputation," said the complainants.
Yated Ne'eman said in response to the charges that it would conduct an inquiry into the matter with the author of the article and that the paper would issue an apology for offending the Yemenite community.