While I am generally no longer surprised when Rowland Evans and Robert Novak use their op-ed column to lambaste Israel, I was incredulous that in their recent column "Shamir's Changed World" {Dec. 10} they bashed the Israeli prime minister for warning the United States to be wary of an armed Iraq.

What Mr. Evans and Mr. Novak describe as Yitzhak Shamir's "bellicose complaints that the Americans are not tough enough against Iraq" is simply an expression by Mr. Shamir of Israel's time-tested understanding of something that we Americans are just now beginning to fully appreciate: Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator who will stop at nothing to achieve his expansionist aims.

Rather than focus on the fact that eyewitness accounts of the returned hostages depict horrible tales of rape, murder and pillage by the Iraqi occupation forces in Kuwait, Mr. Evans and Mr. Novak decide instead to patronize the Israelis for a lack of understanding of the big picture in the Middle East. Maybe Mr. Evans and Mr. Novak should be reminded that it was the Israelis who in 1981 launched a preemptive strike that destroyed Iraq's nuclear capability. Rather than applauding Israel for making the world a safer place, the United States joined the rest of the United Nations in condemning Israel's "aggression."

Nine years later, just days before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, American administration and congressional officials were still refusing to recognize Saddam Hussein for the murderer that he is. Yet despite these realities, Mr. Evans and Mr. Novak have decided, as they always do, that Israel is the one that needs educating.