In this part of the world when we think of the word ‘occupation’, we probably think of it in two senses – someone’s job, and the British Army’s involvement in the conflict here, if you’re of a Nationalist background.

But as terrible as Northern Ireland’s past might have been, it never scaled the heights of horror that Palestine has reached.

More than 30,000 people – almost 1.5 per cent of the population – have died so far, with a great many of those victims being women and children.

Those numbers don’t even include the injured, or those buried and missing beneath the rubble, of whom there must be thousands more.

The pictures coming out of Gaza would draw tears from a stone – so long as stones had eyes, and bothered to look!

Sadly, a great many people are turning their eyes away, adopting the mantra of Japan’s famous Three Wise Monkeys: “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.

Or if they do speak out, like certain Premier League footballers I won’t name, they have to tone things down when they realise it might be damaging.

Whether seeking a move to the Saudi Pro League, or just looking to get promoted at work, any talk of Gaza is potentially a snake on the career ladder.

It’s as if we can pretend Palestine away, in the same way that many people living through Nazi rule in Germany in the 1930s pretended a holocaust wasn’t happening on their doorsteps.

Although it’s wrong to compare the horrors of The Holocaust to the grotesque events happening in Gaza, we’re seeing the same blindness to a people’s suffering.

It’s horrific, and we need to be able to say that.

It’s as if humans learned nothing from the horrors of that Holocaust.

Almost 100 years later, here we are again in a world at war – because whatever way we look at it, the world is at war.

There are wars in Ukraine, Palestine and Syria – but also in many other places that rarely make the headlines.

Some of these are proxy wars, with the world’s great powers pulling the strings.

Sometimes it feels like 1914 all over again, with various runners and riders jockeying for position as the next superpower.

And as that goes on, the suffering of ordinary people continues too.

Like I say, it’s as if we’ve learned nothing, though partly that’s unsurprising, since it took no more than a couple of decades to dismember the idea that World War One was ‘the war to end all wars’.

That’s a line we’ve all studied in History class. That’s one of the magnificent things about Education. It’s positioned on the frontline in a battle to preserve stories and preserve history in a world where most people’s thoughts are focused on the here and now.

Without stories of our history, and without education, we lose a sense of who we are.

Maybe that’s why a particular tactic of the Israeli army in Gaza seems to have been to target educational facilities, and educators too.

Since October, 2023, up to now, hundreds of university professors, school teachers and educators have been killed by Israeli forces.

Added to that, every single one of the dozen universities in Gaza has been damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of schools have suffered the same fate.

Maybe then, if we’re not allowed to call what’s happening ‘a genocide’, we can apply a new vocabulary, of ‘educide’, and ‘scholasticide’?

To begin with, a lot of people in my occupation – university teaching – were silent on this matter.

But as the atrocities mount up, more and more Western educators are starting to speak out against this.

Strangely though, it has been our students who have often been the driving force in providing us with the courage to do so.

Across the university campuses of Britain, and America, young people are occupying buildings in the name of a ceasefire.

Significantly, this is happening in some of the UK’s most prestigious universities. These are the young people with some of the highest academic credentials on these islands; the star students.

This is a generation paying for the education that many of us got for free, or for a lot less than the tens of thousands it now costs to get a degree.

These young people want good jobs at the end of their education, but they also want a better world, which is exactly what so many of today’s universities have been telling them that they should aspire to.

And now those students see themselves as fighting for such a world. Through sleep-ins, sit-ins and occupations, they’re engaged in actions that they see as demonstrating values of social justice.

Without going into the rights and wrongs of the situation, is anyone surprised by this?

By rebelling against one form of occupation through the enactment of another, they’re demonstrating criticality.

And that’s what they’ve been told to aspire to, throughout their education.

If they were doing it in the name of Ukraine – or maybe even, Xinjiang – they’d be celebrated in the news, and on the covers of national papers.

Yet these protests are making few headlines. They’re downplayed.

It’s as if Palestine is the university sector’s new plagiarism; the thing, the word, the suffering to be avoided at all costs. But an increasing number of people in the West are refusing to turn a blind eye.

Unfortunately, just like the student occupations of university campuses, the opposition to Israel’s actions isn’t getting that much media coverage.

And when it does, a false narrative is very often presented.

The regular protest marches in London are a prime example. Although these have been downplayed as ‘gatherings of Muslim extremists’, they draw a mix of people from all religions, and none.

There’s even a significant Jewish representation, including those calling for the release of hostages.

Equally importantly, when most protestors call for Palestine being ‘free from the river to sea’, it’s a cry for co-existence – not more extermination.

That, at least, is the message I’m hearing from the young.

They want to see one state, where the people of Palestine and Israel live together in harmony, regardless of religion and ethnic background.

In some ways, that is idealistic, but if we give up on ideals, what then?

Whatever our employment, we should be able to talk about the occupation and obliteration of the Gaza Strip.

My occupation is that of a university educator, and I stand in solidarity with the educators and people of Palestine, fighting for peace and justice for all involved.

Paul Breen is @CharltonMen on Twitter/X.