From B. Wytwycky's entry Anti-Semitism in Volodymyr Kubijovyc (editor), Encyclopedia of Ukraine, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1984, Volume I, pp. 81-83.
Anti-Semitism. Until the 1940s Ukraine had for many centuries been the home of one of
the world's largest populations of Jews, who alternately thrived there and were the
victims of prejudice as well as of intermittent, sometimes fierce, outbreaks of
The first major outbreak of violence directed against the Jews of Ukraine occurred during the popular rebellion led by B. Khmelnytsky (1648). In discussions about anti-Semitism (A-S) some writers, eg, E. Wiesel in Jews of Silence, have tried to draw a parallel between the 17th-century massacres of Jews and Poles by the Ukrainians during the Khmelnytsky rebellion and the mass killings of Jews by the German Nazis. Such attempts at analogy have typically obscured more than illuminated, and they seem to originate in an inability to recognize a fundamental distinction, a shortcoming common to many writings about A-S, between hostile acts or sentiments directed at Jews that derive from prejudice (A-S) and such acts or sentiments that derive from other sources (eg, real and significant socio-economic or political conflicts rather than imagined or invented ones).
G. Allport's classic definition of ethnic prejudice, of which A-S is a species, defines it as antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalizations. Whereas Nazi attitudes and practices clearly instantiate such antipathy, those of the 17th-century Ukrainian peasant masses do not. Jews were the principal administrators of a system of economic, religious, and national oppression imposed upon the enserfed Ukrainian peasantry by the colonialist Polish nobility. Thus, the mass killings of Jews and Poles during the rebellion, when tens of thousands perished, were prompted by objective conditions of oppression and probably had little to do with ethnic prejudice in the sense defined above. A similar analysis applies to the killing of Jews during the bloody Haidamaka uprisings of the 18th century.
Though more terrible in outcome than the expulsions and most other acts of persecution that Jews have had to endure over the centuries in, eg, Western Europe or Russia, the massacres of Jews and Poles by Ukrainians during the rebellions of the 17th and 18th centuries stand in important contrast to the many practices of persecution against Jews in the lands referred to above. The reason for this is that Jews constituted but a beleaguered and oppressed minority in Western Europe or Russia, while in Ukraine they were, vis-a-vis the Ukrainians, part of the ruling classes. (pp. 81-82)