OK, so I’m going to make this section interactive. I will make a number of propositions on why Religious Zionism is similar to Modern Orthodoxy, and readers are invited to agree, disagree and elaborate. I will do the same for the differences, but these will be more spread out. Ready? Let’s go:
Both RZ and MO believe in secular education and going to college to one extent or another. RW and LW will debate the particulars, but that’s already a matter of degree, not principle. Both communities believe that there is no insurmountable contradiction between Torah and Science, although they both remain deeply split about Torah and Humanities/Jewish Studies. Put differently, Evolution is not an issue by RZ and MO, Biblical Criticism and Historicist thinking are issues.
Proposition # 2:
RZ and MO communities have a far greater tolerance for halachic/hashkafic laxity than the most LW Charedi community. This is due to a number of reasons – sociological as well as principled – but it is a fact of life.
RZ and MO communities both agree that the State of Israel is a good thing. They differ on whether it also has messianic significance.
Both communities have unfulfilled aspirations for general Jewish leadership, and are constantly trying to create elites. Baalei Batim or “simple Jews” who aren’t intellectual/artistic geniuses and/or are not particularly wealthy are not on their radar, and are not considered worthy of attention or investment. To quote my sister Chana, it’s not OK to just be a Jewish baker in the RZ/MO world.
RZ/MO is desperate for legitimacy from both the Charedi and the secular worlds, often developing a “double inferiority complex” in the process. As a result, rather than craft their own identity, discussions about what RZ/MO is revolves around what it isn’t (how it differs from Charedim/Secular/Conservative &c).