The concept of God choosing Israel as His people differs from the nationalism of other peoples, for, among other reasons, it is not necessarily connected to national pride.
Even those among Israel who make a great effort to imitate and be like others sense the same apartness and foreignness.
In fact, sometimes this feeling is accompanied by a sense of helplessness and even embitterment.
Why does it have to be this way?
Why do we have to be other and different?
Whether this phenomenon expresses itself in a sense of superiority and pride or by forced and forlorn loneliness, the very same feeling of apartness and distinction exists.
This sense of abnormality, then, does not depend strictly on Israel’s distinctive manner of existence, but is intrinsic to Israel itself.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz