Monday, October 31, 2016



Assembly Submits Testimony on Azerbaijan's Major Human Rights Violations, Military Buildup & Threats Against Armenians
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Throughout this year, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) has taken steps to address a serious concern of the Armenian-American community: the ongoing threats against Armenians by Azerbaijan.

As Congress looks to approve U.S. foreign aid priorities this week, the Assembly visited over 125 Members of Congress and hand-delivered the new 2013 Assembly Press Kit outlining funding priorities for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, including the Assembly's new FACT SHEET on Azerbaijan.

Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Azerbaijan had once again violated the cease-fire agreement along the line of contact some 200 times. These relentless attacks on Armenian civilians, some targeting a kindergarten school, illustrates the growing hostility of the Aliyev regime, and coupled with its bellicose rhetoric, raises the specter of a new war in the South Caucasus.

On the heels of the cross border attacks, it was announced that Azerbaijan had begun receiving over $1 billion in new weapons and armaments from Russia.

Therefore, it was timely that a few days later, the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) held a briefing entitled "Troubled Partner: Growing Authoritarianism in Azerbaijan." There, the Assembly provided key testimony highlighting the litany of examples of Azerbaijan's authoritarian regime, including but not limited to its suppression of basic freedoms, attacks on journalists, destruction of centuries-old Armenian cemetery in Julfa, Nakhichevan, intransigence in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, interference in the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation process, and massive military expenditures totaling over $6 billion dollars for FY2011-FY2012.

"The Assembly remains deeply troubled by Azerbaijan's intransigence and ongoing threats against America's ally Armenia," stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


Washington, D.C. - Upon the appointment of Ambassador James Warlick to serve as the next U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) reiterates its concerns with respect to Azerbaijan's increased war-rhetoric, ongoing militarization and continued cease-fire violations:

"The Armenian Assembly hopes Ambassador Warlick and his OSCE Co-Chair counterparts will reintegrate the democratically elected government of Nagorno-Karabakh into the peace negotiations.  Only with their participation and the support of the citizens of Karabakh, who valiantly defended their homeland, can a lasting peace be achieved," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. 

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his confidence in Ambassador Warlick, calling him a "first-rate diplomat," when he announced the appointment on August 5th. Secretary Kerry also reiterated that the "United States remains firmly committed to helping the sides reach a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

In 1991, Azerbaijan launched a war against the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh. A Russian brokered cease-fire agreement was signed in 1994 ending the hostilities; however, no peace agreement was ever realized. For almost 20 years, the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France, has sought a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In recent years, cease-fire violations along the line of contact have increased exponentially. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has begun stockpiling massive offensive military armaments to the tune of over $6 billion dollars between Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. Last month, it was reported that Azerbaijan begun receiving another $1 billion dollar arms package from Russia, whereas the United States Congress is in the process of providing an additional $3.3 million dollars to Azerbaijan's military. The Armenian Assembly raised these concerns, among others, in testimony submitted last month to the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) briefing entitled "Troubled Partner: Growing Authoritarianism in Azerbaijan."

Warlick recently served as Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and lead negotiator for the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2009-2012, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs from 2006 to 2009, and Director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


NR#: 2013-017

Photo Caption: Ambassador James Warlick

Below is the full announcement from the U.S. Department of State:

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 5, 2013

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador James Warlick as the next U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group.

Ambassador Warlick brings extensive experience in Europe and Eurasia to this position. He most recently served as Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and lead negotiator for the Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan. He served as Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2009-2012, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs from 2006 to 2009, and Director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

He is a first-rate diplomat, and I am confident that he will do a tremendous job in this critical post.

The United States remains firmly committed to helping the sides reach a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In their joint statement on June 18, Presidents Obama, Putin, and Hollande called on the sides to focus with renewed energy on the issues that remain unresolved, and noted that the leaders should prepare their people for peace, not war. Ambassador Warlick has the wisdom, judgment, and expertise to help the sides achieve that goal.

We have informed the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the OSCE of Ambassador Warlick's appointment.

Ambassador Warlick will assume his new position in September.

Armenians and the Purple Heart

Armenians and the Purple Heart

By Taniel Koushakjian
August 8, 2013
Yesterday marked the 231st anniversary of the establishment of the “Badge of Military Merit,” known today as the Purple Heart, by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. When I first heard this news, I was drawn to the memory of my grandfather, U.S. Army Sergeant Ara Odabachian. Although a well decorated soldier in his own right, he did not receive a Purple Heart, but there had to have been some Armenians who did. After all, thousands of Armenians have fought valiantly in the U.S. Armed Forces, with verified records dating as far back as the Civil War.
According to Professor Ray Raymond, upon his victory at Yorktown, General Washington’s “officers were on the verge of mutiny because of lack of pay, rations and supplies withheld by a corrupt and negligent Congress. Worse, Congress had taken away the authority of his general officers to recognize their soldiers’ courage and leadership by awarding commissions in the field. Congress simply could not afford to pay their existing officers let alone any new ones. As a result, faithful service and outstanding acts of bravery went unrecognized and unrewarded. George Washington was determined to end that. So from his headquarters perched 80 feet above the Hudson, he issued a general order establishing the ‘Badge of Distinction’ and ‘Badge of Merit.’”
Our country’s oldest military award, the Badge of Military Merit was intended to be permanent; however, the end of the Revolutionary War marked the end of the award. That is until 1932, one-hundred and fifty years after its inception. On the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth:
“…By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart, established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.
By order of the Secretary of War:
Douglas MacArthur
General, Chief of Staff”   
So that morning I thought to myself, “How many Armenians have received the Purple Heart? Somebody has to know!” To my astonishment, no such list existed, until today.
With the assistance of the Assembly’s ARAMAC-Pennsylvania Vice Chair Paul Sookiasian, who is active with his local Pennsylvania Armenian-American Veterans Association (PAAVA), he directed me to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor registry. There I was able to search and compile a list of nearly 80 confirmed Armenian recipients of the Purple Heart. In addition to this list, I consulted one of the most important publications on Armenian-American military figures, the 1996 “Triumph and Glory: Armenian World War II Heroes,” by Richard N. Demirjian. I found one name that was not in the registry and there has got to be potentially more Armenians who have served that do not carry the “ian.”
From the Assembly’s 2006 National Advocacy Conference, to the designation of the Colonel George Juskalian United States Post Office in Centreville, Virginia in 2010, and other activities honoring our service men and women, the Armenian Assembly of America has a strong record of raising awareness of and honoring Armenian veterans of the United States.
I know this list is incomplete. Therefore, I am asking anyone with more information about Armenian-Americans who have received the Purple Heart to contact the Assembly at or 202-393-3434. With the help of the Armenian-American community we can complete this list and together raise awareness of the proud Armenian presence in the U.S. Armed Forces.

U.S. Slams Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan For Another Anti-Israel Remark

U.S. Slams Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan For Another Anti-Israel Remark

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (left) tells Israeli President Shimon Peres (right), “When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill,” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. January 29, 2009
By Taniel Koushakjian
August 22, 2013
In the latest development of the Turkish government’s increasingly anti-Israel posture, this week Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan made the audacious claim that Israel was behind the Egyptian military’s ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. Speaking to a group of provincial governors of his AKP party, Erdogan reportedly stated: “What do they say in Egypt? Democracy is not at the ballot box. Who is behind it? Israel. We have in our hands documentation.”
This statement was quickly rebuffed by Israeli and U.S. government officials. In response to a reporter’s question specifically citing Erdogan’s comments, White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said “We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today.” “Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” Earnest stated.
According to the Jerusalem Post, “Erdogan’s rant was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday. ‘This is a statement well worth not commenting on.’”
Erdogan’s anti-Semitic statements have become a new normal for him and his Islamic AKP Party. A few weeks ago, Erdogan blamed the Turkish uprisings surrounding the Gezi Park protests as being motivated by the “interest rate lobby,” a reference widely interpreted to mean Israel.
While these statements may win him praise on the streets of the Arab World, Erdogan may be miscalculating the effect. “’Erdogan’s speech blaming Israel for the coup in Egypt pours cold water on the option of Israel cooperating with Turkey on the gas pipeline,” Gilad Alper, a senior analyst at Ramat-Gan, Israel-based Excellence Nessuah Brokerage Ltd. told Bloomberg News. With Turkey looking to import Israeli natural gas, it appears that Erdogan’s continued anti-Semitic statements jeopardize Turkey’s dream to becoming a major energy hub in the region.
Statements such as these also have an unfortunate effect on Turkish society. Anti-Americanism in Turkey is among the highest in world and has been for many years. The growing anti-Semitism and increasing Islamism in the Turkish government appear related. 
However, Erdogan’s comments are not just confined to Israel and the Jewish people. A headline last month in Commentary Magazine read “Erdogan’s disdain extends from Jews to Blacks.” Author Michael Rubin states that “Criticizing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left and secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Erdoğan declared, “Kılıçdaroğlu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man.”
Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg goes even further: “It’s time to call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan what he is: a semi-unhinged bigot.”
Jewish-American and African-American members of the Congressional Turkish Caucus should be made aware of these statements and reconsider their support of a government and society that is increasingly at odds with U.S. interests and those of our allies Israel and Armenia.
Taniel Koushakjian is the Communications Director of the Armenian Assembly of America. Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest, Washington-based, nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues.
[UPDATED: August 22, 2013 at 5:52 PM]

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Why Hillary Clinton Is Like—and Unlike—Jackie Robinson



Why Hillary Clinton Is Like—and Unlike—Jackie Robinson

The Dodgers great endured endless abuse, but Branch Rickey told him he couldn’t fight back. Hillary does—but with a very Robinson-esque dignity.

10.29.16 12:01 AM ET

When Branch Rickey decided it was time to break the color barrier in major league baseball and put an end to racial discrimination in America’s great game by bringing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he told Robinson that the great change would only work if Robinson were able to take the abuse and insult without responding in kind. Rickey told Robinson he wanted him to “have the guts not to fight back.” They agreed Jackie would remain impassive, self-controlled, and disciplined in the face of it all.
Robinson rose to the occasion, and he played with some of the most impressive grace under pressure ever witnessed. In his first years in the league, he was spiked maliciously and thrown at intentionally. Teams and opposing players threatened not to play if he were on the field. Players and managers taunted him with racist remarks from the dugout, as did some of his own teammates. Fans cursed him and threw garbage, tomatoes and even hunks of watermelon at him. At away games, he was often barred from hotels and restaurants, sometimes forced to ride in different rail cars. The abuse became so bad that his own players began to rally around him. But, at the brink of exploding, he stayed disciplined and focused and in doing so, he broke down Jim Crow barriers one by one,  and he smashed a glass ceiling that opened the way for one of the great revolutions in modern American culture.
Almost 70 years later Hillary Clinton is seeking to break another glass ceilingas she attempts to become the first woman president of the United States. Like Robinson she has been the object of unusually harsh treatment of a kind that no male presidential candidate has ever endured. She has been ridiculed and verbally assaulted by Donald Trump in ways unprecedented in public life. He has attacked her for her facial expressions and claimed that she has no stamina and is physically frail. In his bullying manner, he has said on national television that she has “tremendous hate in her heart,” that “she is a nasty woman,” is “constantly playing the woman card,” and “doesn’t have a presidential look.” He has blamed her for her husband’s infidelities. He has called her a criminal who should be in prison. He has even insinuated that his followers who are gun activists might want to shoot her if she appoints Supreme Court justices they feel don’t share their vision of the Second Amendment. In the face of all this, Clinton has remained poised, professional, and controlled.
With these gestures, Trump has continued to traffic in his own misogyny, validating many of the anxieties his followers feel insecure about their identities in the changing landscape of our culture. A woman Presidentwould embody big and threatening change, especially for a certain segment of American men. Trump’s sexism seems even more extreme than his bigotry toward Mexicans, Muslims, and African Americans. He demeans women continually, mocking the physical appearance of those deemed “overweight.” He has bragged about his predatory behavior on videotape and groping women at his whim.
The continued sexist assaults on Clinton reflect something of the venom that white supremacist America unleashed on Jackie Robinson. Their situations have their differences of course. For politicians, every controversy in the court of public opinion is leveled against them during their elections. Hillary’s long career as a public servant opens her up to plenty of criticism. Some criticism is of course pertinent, but much of it has been hyperbolic and manufactured by the conservative media. Any fair assessment of Hillary Clinton’s 43 years of public service (legal work for children and families, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State)  places her in the top echelon of living politicians; from a gender perspective, even her enemies would have to acknowledge (even if only in private) that she is a trailblazing figure in American history. Her mistake of using a personal server for her State Department emails was careless, and she has acknowledged that and apologized numerous times. But her mistake was not malicious and it has not caused any known foreign policy damage. The barrage of manufactured criticism of Clinton has become fetishized harassment. And Colin Powell’s noting that the relentless Benghazi investigations were nothing more than a “witch hunt” is a confirming assessment of that harassment.
Unlike Robinson, who suffered in another way because he had to remain silent and swallow the abuse, Clinton can fight back. And she does, but she does so with a Robinson-like discipline. We saw this most dramatically on national television during the three debates where Clinton has often smiled, her complex but confident smile in response to Trump’s calling her (often shouting): a failure, unqualified, weak, nasty, morally depraved, a criminal, and more. No one has ever heard of such abusive and unprofessional language in a presidential campaign, but then no one has one ever witnessed a woman nominee for President.
Robinson survived the assaults with poise and pure talent. He went on to be the Rookie of the Year, MVP in 1949, six-time All Star, and Hall of Famer. If Hillary Clinton is elected next month she will have survived a similar kind of bigoted campaign, much of which has been rooted in sexism. If she wins, she will have done it like Robinson with grace under pressure, intelligence, talent, perseverance, hard work.
Peter Balakian won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and is the author of 11 books including Black Dog of Fate and The Burning Tigris, both New York Times Notable Books. He is the Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Glendale Armenians in shadows of the past

Glendale Armenians in shadows of the past

A mural commemorates the Armenian genocide in Los Angeles, California.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
The desolate landscape is a study in shades of red. Fine dust covers the ground. In the distance, dark mountains rise on the horizon. Except for the pale sky, it could be a scene from the surface of Mars.
Arthur Charchian stands in the middle of this barren wasteland and explains that, but for fate's mercy, his ancestors could have died here.
Except "here" isn't the desert of Deir ez-Zor, in what is now eastern Syria, the place where hundreds thousands of Armenians perished while fleeing their ancestral homeland a century ago.
Mr Charchian is in a room at the centre of a temporary exhibit on Armenian history at the Brand Museum in Glendale, California - a memorial to a bitter chapter in the history of a people.
The exhibit, which first opened in Mexico City, is called Armenia: An Open Wound. It traces the history of Armenian culture from what they consider their golden age in the 1st Century BC through the great diaspora - when the Armenian people scattered across the globe after being forced from their homes by the Ottoman Empire Turks during World War One.
They settled in nearby parts of the Middle East, in Europe, in New York and as far away as Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb nestled in the Verdugo Mountains, home to the largest Armenian population in the Western world.
There are currently more than 200,000 Armenians living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, and the city of Glendale - with a population that is roughly 30% Armenian - is its beating heart.

A trickle to a wave

Media captionArthur Charchian describes what Deir ez-Zor means to him
Armenians first started arriving in California early in the 20th Century, as a direct result of the unrest in their homeland. They largely worked in the fertile agricultural valley in central California.
A few settled in Glendale. Friends and relatives followed. They founded a church. They opened shops and restaurants that offered the tastes and products of their homeland - including the ubiquitous small cups of thick, dark coffee and sweet, nut-filled pastries.
It's a pattern that has played out time and again in immigrant communities across the US.
What began as a trickle turned into a series of waves - a result of the war and economic disruption in areas the Armenians had subsequently settled. They fled the Iranian revolution in the 1970s, the Lebanese Civil War in the 1980s, the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the Iraq War in the 2000s and, in the past few years, the Syrian civil war.
Circa 1915: Children of Armenian refugees in a refugee camp.Image copyrightHULTON ARCHIVE
Image captionChildren of Armenian refugees in a refugee camp in 1915
The Armenian community in Los Angeles is a patchwork of immigrants with different reasons for their arrival, different national experiences, all in different stages of assimilation into the American culture.
It includes the Kardashian clan of reality television fame and Tigrana Zakaryan, who is helping to build support for a proposed Armenian American Museum in Glendale; former California Governor George Deukmejian and Ardy Kassakhian, a Glendale city clerk running for a seat in the California legislature.
The experience of Deir ez-Zor unites them, however. It casts a shadow over the Armenian people to this day, and it influences and educates their politics, even in Glendale.

History in a word

Mr Charchian, Mr Zakaryan and other members of Glendale's Armenian community sit in the Brand Museum on a sweltering day in June and explain there is a word that describes what happened to their ancestors in the Deir ez-Zor desert.
Genocide. The wilful attempted eradication of their people at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. They pledge they will not forget - or forgive - until the modern-day Turkish nation acknowledges their suffering, accepts responsibility and makes amends.
US reality TV star Kim Kardashian (L) and her sister Khloe (3rdL) visit the genocide memorial, which commemorates the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in YerevanImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKim Kardashian and her sister Khloe visit a genocide memorial in Yerevan during a trip to Armenia
"For me, it's very important because my father's family was all killed in the genocide, so I never knew my grandparents; never knew my aunt and uncle," says Zaven Kazazian, who runs a consulting company. "When we are in the United States, we are all Americans. We will do everything for this country. But that does not mean we will ever forget the genocide."
Armenians - in Glendale and around the world - have laboured for decades to convince other nations to use the "genocide" label and apply international pressure on the Turkish government. In June, the German parliament offered such recognition. So far, the United States - wary of upsetting relations with a key Middle East ally - has not. Turkish officials, while acknowledging that many Armenians died, assert that the casualties were the result of armed conflict during a time of political instability and not a systematic attempt at ethnic cleansing.
A wall near the end of the exhibit displays a quote from Barack Obama while he was running for president in 2008.
"I am firmly convinced that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, personal opinion or simply a point of view," it reads. "On the contrary, it is a widely documented fact supported by overwhelming historical evidence. The facts are undoubtedly true ... As president I will acknowledge the Armenian Genocide."
As Mr Charchian and the others are quick to point out, that's a promise Mr Obama hasn't kept. Neither has his 2008 Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, who made similar pledges and served as Mr Obama's secretary of state.
Zaven Kazazian, Berdj Karapetian and Tigrana Zakaryan stand at the entrance to the Armenian exhibit at the Brand Museum in GlendaleImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionZaven Kazazian, Berdj Karapetian and Tigrana Zakaryan say the Armenian people's experience at the hands of the Ottoman Turks was genocide
It has left Armenians in the US wary of political promises and was part of the reason why the western branch of the Armenian National Committee of America endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders over Mrs Clinton in California's Democratic 7 June presidential primary.
"We were angry because we believed that Obama was a message of hope, of change," says Berdj Karapetian, head of a Glendale-based healthcare company and chair of the Armenian American Museum that is to be built in Glendale sometime in the coming years.
"It's very difficult when I try to explain to my son, who is 13, that the president is not willing to articulate the word genocide."

'Baffling' connections

The conflict over genocide recognition isn't just a national issue for the Armenians in Glendale, however. It also spills into local politics. Charchian, who works as a lawyer and chairs a business committee with the Southern California Armenian Democrats, says he's considered running for public office but has decided - at least for now - to stay out.
The reason, Mr Charchian says, is that Armenians seeking political office in the Los Angeles area have faced a torrent of negative advertisements funded at a level other candidates haven't faced.
Datapic on Armenian communities
"The attacks would come based on people not knowing me, but only knowing that my last name ends in 'ian'," he says. "It's a disability that we carry as Armenians."
In 2012, for instance, Adrin Nazarian successfully campaigned for a California assembly seat in nearby Sherman Oaks. An opposing independent group, Democrats for Transparency in Democracy, spent nearly $120,000 in direct mailings attacking him.
This year, Ardy Kassakhian is running for a seat representing Glendale. A group called the Parent Teacher Alliance has spent more than $1.2m opposing him - an eye-popping number for a state legislative race.
In both cases, the independent political committees were backed by California Charter Schools Association Advocates, which represents the privately operated, publicly funded schools in California. Here's where nefarious theories of genocide politics creep in.
Media caption'Gulen' schools have come under criticism by Turkey after the recent failed coup
Karapetian notes that one of the more influential charter school companies in Southern California, Magnolia Public Schools, is funded by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.
Gulen, who operates schools around the world, is one of the more influential voices in Turkish politics and recently made headlines when he was linked to the recent military coup in Turkey, leading to calls for his extradition. The head of Magnolia now runs the California Charter Schools Association.
"The fact that they're going to a negative message makes a lot of us ask why," Karpetian says. "It baffles a lot of us. We're not happy, but we'll persevere. That's kind of our nature."
Charchian points to a recent march in Los Angeles commemorating the Armenian genocide that drew more than 150,000 people and the community's political clout as important context to consider.
In 2014, for instance, Armenians - including Mr Nazarian - successfully helped push through state legislation mandating public schools teach "genocide education" - including a section on the Armenian experience.
"California is definitely in the eye of a lot of pro-Turkish forces because, as California goes, so goes the rest of the nation," he says.
'Back where they came from'
Ardy Kassakhian got his first taste of politics as a student at UCLA, where he led efforts to block funding of a Turkish studies programme at the university that he said infringed on academic freedom.
"That was offensive, that Turkey would try to buy its way into one of our most hallowed institutions," he says.
Now the Glendale city clerk, in his California state assembly race, says he's facing off against Turkish interests once again, in the form of the million-dollar expenditures against him.
"I'm sure that Turkish contributors to that particular organisation aren't too disappointed in seeing us get pounded," he says. "I was surprised by the amount. But was I surprised that it happened? No."
An Armenian-language Ardy Kassakhian sign hangs in his campaign headquarters.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionArdy Kassakhian has campaign signs in English and Armenian
Kassakhian has his own deep-pocketed donors, including the teachers' union and real-estate interests.
He is still being vastly outspent, however. And much of the money has gone into negative direct-mail flyers that allege he made ballot-counting errors as clerk (which he denies, citing the results of an internal city audit) and is a closet Republican (which makes him laugh).
"I was a registered Republican between the ages of 18 to 22," says the 39-year-old candidate. Although he says many Armenians used to be Republicans, in part because of the legacy of Governor Deukmejian in the 1980s and the respect Armenian immigrants from the former Soviet Union had for Republican President Ronald Reagan, political trends in the community are heading to the left.
"If you're an Armenian who fled the war in Iraq or the upheaval in the Mid-East, you're more prone to really understand and appreciate the parties who were involved in that," he says. "You're not going to be pro-George W Bush or [his Vice-President] Dick Cheney."
Beyond his concerns over dark money pouring into his race of questionable origins, Mr Kassakhian says he still faces garden-variety discrimination, as well.
"You end up having this in any community or group that's going through the process of acculturating and finding its footing and its political voice," he says. "It's frustrating to me because some of the folks who express an opinion and try to paint me as an outsider - well, I've lived in Glendale longer than they have."
Former Governor George DeukmejianImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionGeorge Deukmejian served as California governor from 1983 to 1991
Mr Kassakhian says he still keeps a voicemail from when he was running for city clerk in 2005, left by a woman who said Armenians are criminals who should "go back where they came from".
"It's actually refreshing when someone tells you what lies in their heart to your face," he says. "It's more frustrating when they smile, but then behind your back speak in coded terms, like, 'Hey, don't trust Armenians, or don't trust the city clerk who's counting the ballots. He's rigging the election, just like they do back in ... wherever.'"
In the 7 June California primary, Mr Kassakhian finished second behind Laura Friedman, the Glendale city council member who has benefited from the charter school efforts. The two Democrats will face off in the 8 November general election.

A nation on the pitch

A 45-minute drive south of Glendale, and local election battles seem like a distant memory. The Armenia-El Salvador football match in Carson, California - part of a two-game visit by the Armenian national team to commemorate the founding of the first Armenian Republic on May 28, 1918 - is less a sporting match than a celebration of Armenian nationalism and culture.
The first Republic only survived two years, ending with its annexation by the Soviet Union. Upon the Soviet empire's collapse, however, Armenia regained its independence and has been an independent nation since 1990.
For most Armenians in Los Angeles, the visit by the Armenian national team - and its star, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who currently plays for Manchester United - was the first chance to cheer for their homeland, and they did it with gusto - clad in red Armenian football jerseys, waving orange, red and blue Armenian flags, dancing to Armenian music over the stadium loudspeakers and chanting "Hayastan" - the Armenian word for their nation - throughout the match.
Sylvie and John Chatikachian brought their three children to the game and posed for a family photo, holding a long Armenian football scarf. Sylvie's great-grandparents came from Armenia. John fled to Los Angeles to live with relatives during Lebanon's civil war.
Sylvie and John Chatikachian pose with their family before the Armenia v El Salvador football match
Image captionSylvie and John Chatikachian, who send their to children to an Armenian school in Glendale, get ready to watch the Armenian national team play
"For two years, every time I heard a loud noise I thought it was an explosion and woke up," he said. "It took a while to get used to."
His story is the Armenian experience on a small scale. His grandparents were forced from their homes by the Turks. His parents grew up in Aleppo, Syria - and he has lost contact with relatives there due to that nation's civil war. Now his family is in California - and although they live in southern Los Angeles, they send their children to an Armenian school in Glendale.
"We want to raise our kids to appreciate the diversity of our culture and what we've learned in the past," she says. "Our Armenian community means everything."