WARSAW, Poland -- The Palestine Liberation Organization Tuesday placed a wreath to honor Jewish fighters of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising despite the protests of Jews who denounced the tribute as 'an obscenity.'
Fuad Yassin, chief of the PLO mission in Poland, laid a wreath of red carnations and evergreen branches next to another floral tribute shaped like a blue-and-white Israeli flag.
The PLO's wreath was one of dozens marking the 40th anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.
It was placed at the main monument in the center of the area that was a walled compound the Nazis erected to hold all of Warsaw's Jews, up to 500,000 people at one point.
The neighborhood was destroyed completely in the fighting that followed the uprising, but has been rebuilt as a residential section.
Yassin said he wanted to honor the heroism of the Jewish commandos of 1943 who battled the Nazis.
'The Palestinian people are victims of a new Nazism today and that is Zionism,' Yassin added.
Jewish leaders said the PLO appearance profaned the memory of the ghetto uprising victims and complained they had been lied to by Polish officials who promised Yassin would not appear.
The incident sparked talk of a walkout by the 350-member Israeli delegation in Warsaw, but no immediate action was taken,
Israel Radio later reported that Israeli Education Minister Zevulun Hammer ordered the Israelis to boycott the remainder of events marking the anniversary, but leaders of the Israeli delegation were still weighing their response.
The leading member of the 100-member U.S. delegation in Warsaw, Rabbi Alexander Schindler of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, arrived at the ghetto monument less than a half hour after Yassin left.
He denounced the Palestinian for his action, calling it 'an obscenity,' but went ahead with his own wreath presentation alongside acting U.S. Ambassador Herbert Wilgus.
A number of Jewish leaders had vowed to walk out of the Polish observances if the Palestinians were allowed to take part.
'To have (here) a man who delights in the murder of Jewish children makes a hideous mockery of everything this ceremony stands for,' Schindler said.
There was no confrontation at the monument. A crowd of several hundred people, many of them Jews, watched silently as Yassin and five other PLO representatives walked solemnly to the monument.
The main part of the ceremony, featuring presentations by more than 70 international and Polish delegations, took place several hours earlier.
Heavy security surrounded all the dignitaries. Police marksmen patroled nearby rooftops.
Yassin later said, 'I'm here on behalf of the Palestinian people. My word to our cousins, as we call the Jews ... is to think deeply of the future.
'Think deeply about the problem of the Jews and the Palestinians. We are both victims of Zionism. If it goes on like this, it will eventually destroy the Jews.'