Jeane Kirkpatrick is the professor, but Jimmy Carter is the one who has done his homework. Jeane Kirkpatrick's assertion {"Jimmy Carter's Mideast Fictions," op-ed, Sept. 24} that Mr. Carter was "wholly mistaken" in his claim during an interview on CNN that Iraq's conquest of Kuwait and Israel's occupation of Arab land have the same legal status doesn't live up to professional standards.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Saddam Hussein and Jimmy Carter have the facts on their side. The U.N. Security Council has passed resolutions as tough against Israel as it has against Iraq. The difference is, as Mr. Carter pointed out, that the council has never gone so far against Israel as it has against Iraq by enforcing the resolutions.

Jeane Kirkpatrick's argument that only Resolution 242 addresses Israel's occupation is simply wrong. Since Israel's conquests of 1967, there have been numerous resolutions in which the United States joined or did not veto that have condemned Israel in language every bit as strong as the recent resolutions against Iraq. For instance, in language reminiscent of its condemnation of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, the council in Resolution 478 of Aug. 20, 1980, declared "null and void" Israel's annexation of Jerusalem.

There have been other resolutions employing similarly tough language against Israel's occupation. Thus in Resolution 446 of March 22, 1979, the council deplored Israel's establishment of settlements in the occupied territories and called them "a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace." Another resolution, 465 of March 1, 1980, called the settlements "illegal" and condemned them. The council has also condemned Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights (497 of Dec. 17, 1981) and the presence of its troops inside Lebanon (509 of June 6, 1982).

Former ambassador to the United Nations Kirkpatrick is being less than candid when she fails to mention how many times the Security Council has tried to pass other resolutions against Israel's actions -- only to have them vetoed by the United States. There would be a number of additional resolutions condemning Israel had the United States not used its once precious veto 29 times to shield Israel. In 18 of these cases, the veto was cast by the administration Jeane Kirkpatrick served, so she can hardly be unaware of them.

Obviously Saddam Hussein is not exactly out of touch with reality when he calls for enforcement of all U.N. resolutions. To claim otherwise is to ignore one of the few strengths of his position, especially in the Arab world. Unless we understand Saddam's strengths as well as his weaknesses we will underestimate at our own peril the task before us.

DON NEFF Washington